First it was built on Ogden Bog, then it was “The Bog,” then it became storage space for emergency water (which, when the water spilled out of its boxes and flooded the floor of Hermann Hall—the HUB—made it a bit of a bog again). Not surprisingly, it’s The Bog—the former student and faculty hangout in the basement of HUB, closed for the past three years—that a group of current IIT students has successfully campaigned to reinstall, this time for good. The Bog, which featured a bowling alley, bar, and recreation center, was open for four decades. Thousands of alumni and faculty enjoyed the facility and have passed down their many fond memories and stories through the years. These stories helped to fuel the students’ desire to bring back The Bog.
Already interested in expanding entertainment options on campus, a handful of student-leaders attended a conference seminar last year on how to ignite a passionate student body, and “It all came together,” says Jason Tenenbaum (AE, 4th year), Student Government Association (SGA) president.
Adds Tim Schug (CE, 5th year), “Our takeaway from the speaker was ‘make an impact, an impact, an impact.’”
“We realized The Bog was something nearly everyone missed, even if we hadn’t experienced it as students,” —jason Tenenbaum
Upon their return, the students began doing their homework. They surveyed fellow classmates about life on campus and how frequently they would use The Bog. At least 600 students participated in Strike Force Bowling Society events last year, and students were itching for both more consistent event programming and more options to gather outside the classroom. “We realized The Bog was something nearly everyone missed, even if we hadn’t experienced it as students,” Tenenbaum says.
After conducting a feasibility assessment and learning that many faculty and administrators were also behind their efforts, SGA committed student activities fund money to assist with the operation of The Bog.
But they still had to bring it back to life.
Over the summer, Tenenbaum, Schug, Strike Force President Brandon Lloyd (AE, 4th year), and Union Board President Vishal Kadakia (BME, 4th year) continued their campaign to bring back The Bog. A few years of neglect had left the space in need of significant renovation. Just some of the work to be done included installing a new sprinkler system and new electronic scoring, replacing old floor tiles, rehabilitating lanes, pinsetters, and kitchen equipment, and buying new bowling balls and shoes. “It was a big budget we were asking for. At one point we thought we’d have to count on alumni and others for $800,000 to make it happen. Even if we did raise the money, we weren’t sure we’d get to enjoy The Bog before we graduated,” says Schug.
Eventually their vision, determination, and energy paid off. In July, President Lew Collens approved the proposal, but asked the students to help raise $400,000 in philanthropy to offset the renovation costs.
Among many impressed by the students in action was Steve Lindee of Institutional Advancement. “This is about a spirit, not a place,” he says. “These students want a piece of university heritage they can hang on to. Something’s come alive here, and alumni, faculty, and staff are getting caught up in it. It’s a fever we hope everyone catches.”
As work begins this fall, everyone in the IIT community has an opportunity to help the effort. “We got the ball rolling,” says Tenenbaum, “but now we hope everyone gets involved. People can offset some of the renovation costs, they can visit The Bog, and they can share their stories. Students could give $10 and still make a big impact.”
This year during Homecoming and Alumnifest (October 6–8), the students are hoping to show off the renovation progress being made as new life is breathed back into the campus hangout, which is anticipated to open this winter.
“Homecoming will be great; we’ll see some progress by then,” says Schug. “But we can’t wait for January.”