Alumni won't recognize today's UA

By David Schultz
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 14, 2005

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, my father graduated from the UA with a degree in English.

This was a really bold choice for a major at the time, seeing that English language had just been invented several years prior to his entrance into the university.

But the university that he graduated from all those millennia ago and the university that I'll (hopefully) graduate from sometime in the near future exist in two different realms.

The UA has undergone so many stunning changes in the last 30 or so years that it has become a completely different school.

The main thing that's changed since then: the technology. Anyone who goes down to the bottom floor of the Main Library at around noon on any given weekday will see something that looks like a scene out of Aldous Huxley's worst nightmare.

Every day at the Information Commons in the Main Library, thousands of students plop down and plug into state-of-the-art computers and surf the Internet to possibly do research or write papers, but probably just send instant messages to their friends or play online poker.

"But what about the books?" you say. "What about the Dewey Decimal System?"

Actual non-electronic books have been, for the most part, relegated to the upper floors of the library, but they've become the library equivalent of ghost towns where only those running away from something dare to tread.

The only (living) people up there are usually tired students looking for a quiet spot to nap and perverts looking for, well, whatever it is perverts look for.

The UA has embraced the technological revolution with open arms, and now there is a computer lab in almost every building. Moreover, the area on the UA Mall in front of the library has been enabled for wireless Internet.

This means that on a sunny Tucson afternoon, students can now lay a blanket down on a patch of grass in the middle of campus and stare mindlessly at a computer screen. After all, isn't that what sunny afternoons were made for?

And while you're sitting on the Mall, siphoning information out of the Orwellian contraption on your lap, you might notice that many of the buildings surrounding you are brand spanking new.

This represents yet another huge change that took place in the last 30 years. The UA constructs new buildings like bacteria multiply or like a college student's net worth decreases over the course of a weekend in Las Vegas: exponentially.

Some of the most important buildings on campus, namely the Student Recreation Center, the Manuel T. Pacheco Integrated Learning Center, the Henry Koffler building, the renovated Park Student Union and, most of all, the new Student Union Memorial Center, have all been built within the last 30 years.

Furthermore, according the 2004-05 UA Factbook, the campus has increased in size by more than 1 million square feet in just the last 10 years. In that same period of time, the university erected nine new buildings, a fact that any student who has had to walk around enormous construction sites to get to class can attest to.

The UA is a completely different entity than it was 30 years ago. Thanks to the innovations of the Internet age and the farsighted thinking of the administrators who embraced those innovations, all the teaching, learning, researching and even business that is conducted on a daily basis at the UA has been completely altered.

And the actual physical appearance of the campus itself has completely changed thanks to remarkably prodigious construction that has done just as much to increase the quality of life on campus as the aforementioned technological innovations.

Despite majoring in English in college, my father would be unable to find words to describe all the transformations that have occurred to his school since he matriculated more than 30 years ago.

The UA bears almost no resemblance to its 1970s version because of all of the changes that have taken place since then. Because of techno-happy administrators and a campus that has never stopped growing, those changes have definitely been for the better.

David Schultz is a senior majoring in political science and philosophy. He can be reached at