Friday, November 19, 2004

UL Laughingstock?

A clarification: this is my latest column for The University of Louisiana Vermilion, to be published on Nov. 24. The Daily Advertiser, our local newspaper, announced that it would offer its own take on the hotly debated UL Lafayette name issue by referring to the school as the University of Louisiana (without "Lafayette"). A letter to The Verm that following week suggested that UL's paper follow the same lead. This has pissed off people who do not approve of calling the school anything other than the University of Louisiana at Lafayette or approved variants thereof. Last week, The Vermilion's staff editorial declared that the paper will continue using the regional designation UL Lafayette, apparently in an attempt not to upset the administration. Heavens!

As someone who has attended this school long enough to have tenure, I remember when the University of Louisiana at Lafayette was known as the University of Southwestern Louisiana. On Sept. 10, 1999, USL finally saw the end to its regional stigma upon the removal of the archaic “Southwestern” from its name. However, the name change also spelled the end of a reliable moniker for our school. In the ensuing years, the exact nature of our name has remained up for debate.

In an effort to address this problem, The Daily Advertiser recently decided to refer to our school exclusively as the University of Louisiana. The Advertiser, whose editorials usually run along the lines of “School’s in—drive safely” and “Business Expo will be good for area businesses,” has taken a strong stand on an actual issue for once. Way to go! Such a move is a nice reminder of the once-popular concept of civil disobedience.

Needless to say, rival newspapers such as The Advocate have not embraced such a policy. And, as its staff editorial noted last week, neither will The Vermilion. I can understand why a Baton Rouge-based paper would not indulge UL. But why hasn’t The Vermilion? Good question.

Like many Ragin’ Cajuns, I have never been totally comfortable with the name UL Lafayette or its variations. Quite frankly, it is a bulky and awkward name that does little to remove the regional connotations from our school (which was the whole point in the first place). It smacks of the usual pro-LSU bias that increasingly defines the simplemindedness of our state politics.

Dropping that second L would go a long way toward clarifying our name in the national spotlight. ESPN, for example, never gets our name right. Over the course of one basketball season, I saw us represented as “ULL,” “LAF” and even the horrid “LAL”—none of which are officially sanctioned abbreviations. “LOU” would work, as might “LA.” If I have to hear someone speak condescendingly of “ULL, U-La-La or whatever you call it these days” one more time, I’m going to nuke the state capitol, okay?

From the outset, we should have been the University of Louisiana; otherwise, why bother changing the name at all? But we all knew the rule (written with no small influence from LSU backers) that no university could take the name University of Louisiana unless another university took it as well. Thus began our inseparable bond with UL Monroe, a school that mirrors us in every way—except that it’s a completely different and unrelated institution. Does anyone really confuse the two? I seriously doubt it.

Would we ever be able to erase the city tag? At least one well-known Louisiana school already does it! LSU has several locations across Louisiana, among them satellite campuses in Shreveport, Alexandria and Eunice. The proper name for the main campus is Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge. Check out http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/louisiana/uni.htm if you think I’m kidding. If LSU can conveniently forget its regional name, why can’t we?

If The Vermilion wants to continue to live in U-La-La Land, then so be it. But as this paper’s masthead reminds us, opinions expressed in The Verm do not necessarily reflect those of other writers. I know that The Vermilion’s pro-“UL at Lafayette” policy does not reflect my views. And I, for one, refuse to let a particular “flagship” university decide for us that we should be comfortable with carrying the name of a second-tier school. And our own university community certainly should not be the ones embracing such a small-time mentality. The University of Louisiana should never be satisfied with being number two.

3 comments:

The Manning Report said...

Really I don't care what the school is called. I find it aggravating to hear every second that the name is going to change. I though it was dumb to let the name change thing run on the front page of the Vermillion. It was quite boring, don't they have anything else than that stuff to write about? ULL, UL, UL of Lafayette, USL, U of L of L, U of L at L, who gives a care.

Oh yea on a seperate point, I noticed in this weeks column that all your quotes never end. Your start a quote like 8 times put you never close one of them. Your editor didn't catch that?

Ian McGibboney said...

Manning,

The Verm hasn't had a worthwhile front-cover story in quite a while. At least they had an interesting collage for us to look at instead of Katie Ortego's face yet again.

As for the open quotes: In Associated Press style (the journalistic standard), single quotes broken up by paragraphs only have open quotes. In other words, the column was mainly one long quote, so it would only have an ending quotation mark at the last quoted paragraph. I put one at the end of the "quote," but it somehow mysteriously vanished in print. I think they do that on purpose to make me look stupid.

Nick said...

"The Verm hasn't had a worthwhile front-cover story in quite a while. At least they had an interesting collage for us to look at instead of Katie Ortego's face yet again." HAHA, excellent point. That's the main reason I stopped wasting time to pick up a copy at the conference center in the evenings.

You know what I find about the Verm., and the UL name things is a good example? They lack balls. Straight up, they need to grow a pair before they're really worth while. They should be the ones LEADING the campaign to have us called the University of Louisiana Ragin Cajuns. However, what do you expect? This same paper loves to place front page pics of idiot SGA officers and praise them for leading the charge to make "Cayenne the Pepper" our mascot, and then spend 5 grand on the damn thing. We have the 2nd dumbest mascot in the NCAA, only to Western Kentucky's red dot.