One of my most vivid memories from my freshman year at UL (aside from the McKinley St. hangovers) was the fear and intimidation I felt standing in the middle of the Quad, knowing I had class in one of the buildings, but not having a clue which of the buildings was which. Although many UL students before me shared my nightmare of walking into the wrong class, for students these days it's much less of a concern. One of the first projects commissioned by the Savoie Administration was the addition of stone name signs to every building on campus. These signs ensure that the building you are walking into is the building you want to walk into.

Dr. Savoie gets it. The new building signs are one of the many examples of the Savoie Administration's commitment to making UL a more student friendly campus. Although UL is currently making big headlines for high profile hires and multimillion dollar campus expansions, these major news stories have little impact on the campus experience for the most of the students here, at least not for the next few years. Whoever happens to be coaching whatever sport will not help you to get to class on time; knowing that you are walking into the right building, however, will.

Another important campus addition has been the many street lights that now line campus sidewalks. For years, UL's campus has been a highly sketchy and poorly lit place at night. Students living in Legacy Park and Stokes dorms were forced to make the long, dark walk to the school cafeteria at night without being able to see what creepy crawling things might be lurking in the darkness. The new streetlights make this once infamous walk much more comfortable.

Evidence of the Savoie Administration's commitment to the students is everywhere. The long stretch of sidewalk that runs from St. Mary Blvd to the computer science building has been widened to allow for more foot traffic. Red brick inlays have been added to the land adjacent to the sidewalk complete with benches, trashcans, and flowers. These additions have turned a once long and dull walk into one of the most attractive areas on campus. Students can now be seen studying, socializing and relaxing in an area that until only recently was just a forgettable grassy lawn.

One project yet to be completed is the large wooden deck behind Dupre Library. The large multi-level deck surrounds one of the campus' historic giant oaks. Although at the moment it's more of a playground for squirrels, it will soon be a nice daytime picnic area for students to enjoy a cup of coffee, study, and socialize. (And at night the peaceful moonlit deck will become the quintessential hook-up spot. Thank you, thank you, Dr. Savoie)

But UL is by no means a finished product. Even as the physical campus becomes friendlier, the digital campus is rather unfriendly. UL was one of the early pioneers in computer science and still offers cutting edge academic programs in field, and often makes headlines for expensive technological advancements, nevertheless the technology available to the students on campus is often lacking. The addition of the LUS Fiber To The Home initiative has transformed Lafayette into a state-of-the-art digital community, but the effects of of that service have yet to trickle down to the campus. An easy suggestion to both increase campus friendliness and to take advantage at the technology at our disposal would be to make the campus completely wireless. Use the enormous amount of bandwidth LUS can provide to eliminate campus dead zones and allow students to be logged on at all times.

Imagine this headline, “UL Lafayette, MIT, and Akron are among first to go totally wireless.” UL is in the perfect position to add its name to the small list of prestigious universities that have already gone fully wireless. The emergence of new hand held wireless internet ready devices like iPads and smart phones are changing higher education. With the enormous amount of bandwidth that LUSFiber can provide, UL has the priceless opportunity to jump ahead of the game. The national publicity the university would receive would boost our national reputation, and highlight our commitment to remaining on the cutting edge of technology. The transition to a totally wireless campus would be a major selling point for prospective students considering multiple schools, and would have an immediate impact on enrollment.

UL and LUS already have the resources available to to make a totally wireless campus a reality. The question moving forward for the Savoie Administration should not be if, but how soon the transition can begin.

Another opportunity for improvement would be the often cursed, seldom-updated university website. If I had a dollar for every foreign professor I've heard cursing the website in broken English, I probably wouldn't need my college education. Unfortunately, I have yet to receive any such payments, so I must continue my schooling and put up with the sorry excuse for the high school Dreamweaver project we call a website. Using the website for seemingly simple tasks like finding information on school programs, purchasing items in the university bookstore, or paying parking tickets online have been made so complicated and confusing that most students refrain from using it as much as possible.

The poor quality of UL's website sets the school back in many ways. For the tech-savvy prospective student of tomorrow, the website is often their first impression of the University. Currently, UL's first impression consists of a pixelated logo, tiny printed words, and pictures of buildings. When comparing our homepage with the homepages of nearby schools like Houston, and even (begrudgingly) La Tech & ULM, it is easy to see that UL's website is simply not up to par.

Bringing UL's website into the 21st century should be one of the Savoie Administration's main priorities. The school 'site should no longer be pushed back and ignored. It should be an online symbol of who we are as a university, and who we are as a community. It should be easily navigable, visually attractive, and above all else, contain relevant, up to the minute information.

Bringing the current website into the 21st century means many things. The website should get away from its dated text-heavy format and incorporate more of the multimedia features that are now expected from professional websites. The website should feature a video gallery that gives perspective students an inside look at life on campus. The website should utilize social media pages such as facebook and twitter in order to better interact with the students. Granted, UL does currently have facebook and twitter pages, but they are not linked to by the website, they are not actively publicized to the students, and they simply do not contain enough relevant information to be worth looking at anyway. UL's current official university facebook page is nothing more than Wikipedia's recount of our history. Seriously.

Social media is a very efficient way to communicate directly with current and future students. Imagine a UL Information facebook page that could give immediate feedback to students and prospective students. It would be free to create, run by student workers, and eliminate tons of confusion. It is definitely something to consider working towards in the future.

UL's campus is changing, whether through signs on buildings that decrease confusion, streetlights to increase security, or newly widened sidewalks and campus benches. It is evident that the Savoie Administration cares about the small details that make a big impact in the lives of the students.

Now we need to bring our cybercampus up to par, because the student of tomorrow will live in both.

Sam Stokes is senior in media Advertising. He was graduated from Carencro High in 2007. He plays guitar with T-Ray & Sam, and attends almost every Cajuns sporting event he can. To read more of his work click on his name at the top of this article.


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