Got Tech?

Today’s campus culture is defined by high-speed technology

By Magazine Staff

As a Wilderness First Responder, Meg Patterson needs only her training and instinct to set a broken bone, administer CPR, or defend herself against a bear.

As a junior at Loyola, however, she needs the latest technology to survive the forest of academia and the jungle of her social life. Her survival kit includes a cell phone and a laptop with Internet access—make that wireless, please. And, if her parents offered, she wouldn’t say no to a smartphone.

“Your life is completely dominated by technology,” said Patterson, who is majoring in sociology with a minor in natural sciences. “It takes over. You don’t think about it, but it’s such a part of our lives.”

In a campus culture where not using Facebook becomes a Lenten sacrifice and wireless Internet is about as exciting as indoor plumbing, the university races to satisfy the student population’s ravenous hunger for the latest and fastest technology.

Changing Culture

Tom Podles, director of computing services, has watched student—and faculty— expectations change since he started at Loyola in June 1985. At that time, students were just beginning to ask, “What’s an e-mail?” By 1989 the questions changed to “What’s my e-mail name?” and by 1993-95 they were saying, “What’s my username? At what?”

Today’s students expect a whole lot more. “We refer to the students now as digital natives. They expect cable TV. They expect high bandwidth. And if you don’t have it, you’re at a competitive disadvantage,” Podles said. “It would be like offering a dorm without a bathroom or without electricity and telling students, ‘Light your candles.’ The same is true of the Internet.”

Caught in the Web

Although many students can’t imagine attending college without access to a cell phone and high-speed Internet, some also acknowledge a love/hate relationship with their gadgets.

“My cell phone and laptop are very important in my life. I get anxious when I’m not able to use one or the other, but sometimes I get tired of them,” said Jessica Aumack, ’11. “Once I went on a retreat where I had no service, and it was nice that I was able to not be in constant contact with others.”

A chemistry major from Eatontown, N.J., Aumack believes she would “get much more work done” if she didn’t have access to technology—especially if she weren’t using Facebook or Twitter. “They are an addiction,” she said. “Out of boredom or procrastination I will sit on Facebook and hit the refresh button every few minutes just to see that nothing has changed. If I didn’t think it was a necessary tool to communicate and keep up with my friends from home, I would get rid of it.”

Looking ahead to applying to medical school in her senior year, Rachel Shuck, ’10, recently canceled her Facebook account. “Rather than constantly checking the appropriateness of the content of my page, it seemed easier to simply delete the account entirely.”

Bookmark and Share

No Comments

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment