Scorecard: How UConn has changed since 2010
Published: Friday, September 20, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 19:09
Thinking back to the first day of my freshman year, a surprisingly large number of things about UConn have changed. Some important, some not so much. Some for the better, some for the worse. Here is my rundown.
Husky mascot change: better. Sure, our smiling puppy dog looked cute, but you hardly inspire fear in opponents when wearing a jersey reminiscent of one of the 101 Dalmatians. The new mascot with teeth bared and eyes blazing creates an intimidating look without being too intimidating - no blood dripping from its fangs. Plus the husky was redesigned to resemble an actual husky, unlike the previous incarnation which was apparently reminiscent of a Samoyed dog.
McMahon Dining Hall renovations: worse. Before it was the worst dining hall on campus, McMahon used to be the best. Now the plates are bigger, the portion sizes are smaller, and the food is worse. No disrespect to the hard-working staff and crew who work tirelessly every day to prepare several thousand meals there - we all appreciate the work you do. But every student I’ve talked to preferred McMahon version 1.0.
HuskyMail to Gmail and Google Apps: better. UConn seemingly had not changed or updated its email system since its creation, in the 1990s judging by its visual look. It was slow, would frequently crash and possessed limited options. For example, only one file could be attached per email. Upon switching to Google, not only does Gmail work way better for your @UConn.edu email, but the associated applications prove useful, such as real-time document collaboration on Google Drive for group assignments.
The football team: worse. Hard to believe that our current squad, which started this season 0-2 for the first time in more than a decade, was three years ago one of only 10 teams nationally to earn a Bowl Championship Series spot. We were good enough to be matched up post-season against perennial championship contender Oklahoma. Then we lost Dave Teggart, Zach Frazier and Randy Edsall, followed by two consecutive losing seasons, soon to be three if our current trajectory holds up.
Storrs Center: better. Two years ago when former “Simpsons” writer Mike Reiss premiered his original play “I’m Connecticut” at the Jorgensen Auditorium here, one of the characters joked, “What aren’t there any of in Storrs? Stores!” Cue laughter and audience applause. Only a short time later the Storrs Center complex changed all that, with cool stores that both college students and people of all ages want to visit. Moe’s Southwest Grill, Insomnia Cookies, even the Ballard Puppetry Museum, one of UConn’s little-known treasures previously hidden in Depot Campus.
The Co-op: worse. A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, the UConn bookstore actually sold books. True, the books and magazines never technically left, as they are now sold in the Co-Op’s new second building in the southeast corner of campus. But the original building in the center of campus - easily the more highly attended of the two Co-Op branches, given its central location - now devotes all its space to T-shirts, manila folders and chocolate bars.
Student Daily Digest: better. The university and administration used to send up to several emails every day, beyond annoying especially because I didn’t care about most of them. Then they began Daily Digest, a compilation of all announcements, news, upcoming events and student-submitted (and university-approved) messages. The layout is clean, simple text on white background, only listing headlines that can be clicked on for further information. Sent at noon exactly, once a day every day.
Tuition: worse. Granted, this might not be a fair criticism, since tuition has risen at virtually every university in the entire nation, not just here. Also, some factors causing the tuition increases are outside the university’s control, notably decreased state aid during the Great Recession. But still: approving four consecutive years of 6.0 pecent or higher tuition increases (rather than one year at a time as usual) in Dec. 2011, right after everybody went on holiday break and wasn’t around to protest or voice criticism? Sneaky.