Editorial: The Vermilion launched its new website recently, and it's good to see the student newspaper back online. But there was some controversy in the debut, as the editor published a pro-LSU op-ed piece for his inaugural issue.
The day the new website came out, I was contacted by The Vermilion's editor, Nick Fontenot, on a topic concerning websites. He told me a little bit about just how much effort and expense The Vermilion staff put into this new on-line version.
Given that effort, I assume that for his first opinion piece Mr. Fontenot likewise put in a lot of thought and consideration. After all, this was the beginning of his legacy as editor, this was his one chance at a first impression.
And the field of possible topics was large. Ragin' Cajun athletics are looking terrific, and (at that point) football was off to a very rare 2-1 start. UL research funding is accelerating, and apparently has outstripped LSU and Tulane. The campus is in the middle of a quarter billion dollar building boom. The University is going to even more selective admissions next Fall. Enrollments are up, even though most of the state is seeing declines. UNO has joined the UL System, bringing a 5th research campus to one of the largest college systems in the nation. Engineering was just granted a PhD program. President Savoie is looking at acquiring the old Lourdes property, which would begin tying our three central campuses together, and allow UL to jump from 138 acres to over 600.
On the other hand, state funding has dropped to toxically low levels, students are struggling to keep up with tuition hikes, those same selective admissions that enhance our stature may also slash our enrollments, and it appears we are being largely excluded from the BP oil spill money. There was a lot to choose from.
Mr Fontenot chose to write about LSU.
In his essay, he says wanted to go to LSU, that he was eligible to go to LSU, but that he enrolled here because UL is cheaper. He says he loves LSU, and that he likes UL. He says he is an LSU fan, and that he "pulls" for UL. He says he will wear red on Friday.
He doesn't say what he will wear on Saturday.
It's an op-ed piece largely about what is good about LSU, and what is not quite so good about UL. Mind you, this isn't the sort of constructive criticism that says "Here is someone doing it right." That's the curious thing. He could have said, "This is where I think we should be headed," or, "With the right effort we can can compete with anyone." After all, that's what our way of life is all about, a belief (and even a set of laws) that insist that with hard work and intelligence, anyone can grow to compete with anyone else, in anything.
But Mr. Fontenot doesn't say that. Instead he says that UL is not LSU's rival. He also says that we should focus our efforts on other midmajors.
Does Mr. Fontenot think that UL should not be ambitious, that we should not try to compete with anyone ahead of us? Does he think the status quo should be the static quo? He doesn't actually say that so we can't be sure, but it seems to be one implication.