(This is part of a special series on getting “Justice for the Judge.”)
The University of Iowa named one of their residence halls after Duke Slater in 1972. Slater Hall serves as the University of Iowa’s tribute to Duke’s career, and it was a wonderful gesture at the time. Today, however, the memorial has fallen short of its intended purpose.
Slater Hall and Kinnick Stadium
The same year that Iowa named Slater Hall after Duke, the school renamed Iowa Stadium after Nile Kinnick. Yet the university has done much more than that over the last forty years. Iowa didn’t just name Kinnick Stadium after Nile and then forget about him – they continued to keep Nile Kinnick’s legacy front and center by constantly infusing Kinnick Stadium with the image of its namesake.
Think about it: the school plays Kinnick’s Heisman Trophy speech before every football game. They carved a relief of Kinnick’s touchdown against Notre Dame in 1939 into the side of the structure. They even unveiled a 12-foot bronze statue of Nile Kinnick in front of the stadium as a reminder of who the building was named after!
None of this is to suggest that Kinnick is undeserving of such tributes. But if you’ve ever been near Kinnick Stadium, you’ve seen photographs of Nile plastered all around the area. The University of Iowa has infused Kinnick Stadium with images of the man it is meant to honor, which seems like a pretty obvious thing to do.
After seeing all that, Slater Hall is just…sad. Sure, it’s named after Duke Slater, but that’s it. There’s no plaque on the wall, no display case in the lobby. There’s no photo of Duke Slater anywhere near Slater Hall. Go ahead, try to find one. I did and came up empty. It’s like the university just slapped his name on the residence hall forty years ago and then forgot all about it. Compared to how Iowa has given Kinnick such (much deserved) respect, the way they’ve treated Slater Hall is nothing short of outrageous.
Justice for the Judge
That needs to change, and the best and most obvious way to do that is by making Slater Hall an actual living tribute to Duke, the way it was always meant to be. Slater Hall needs a cased display in the lobby, full of photographs of Slater, a biography of the man, and a few artifacts that let residents know why Duke Slater was such an important figure in Iowa history.
How do we get this done? It starts by finding a person or committee that oversees Iowa’s residence halls that could approve such a display. I don’t know who that would be…the Office of Residence Life, perhaps? The University of Iowa needs to be made aware of the importance of this initiative, because Slater Hall should serve to represent Duke Slater’s legacy at the school in the same way the Kinnick Stadium represents Nile’s.
A modest display at Slater Hall would go a long way toward turning the tide on Slater’s anonymity with students at Slater Hall, and eventually, the larger student population. We should strive to make Slater’s residence hall a true memorial to one of the greatest athletes in school history.
Filed under: Duke Slater
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