Then and Now

Part Two: 1970 vs. 2001 - No Disco, Typewriters or 8-Tracks

If we went back to 1972, found the young Lee Gibbon, and returned in our time machine to Alex's first day at the UW, he'd be in shock. Of course, he would be struck by the different haircuts, clothing styles and a rainbow of skin colors. Our 21st century Huskies would feature shaved heads and goatees for men, earrings and backpacks for everyone. More than a third of the faces looking at him would not be white. "I just don't recall that kind of diversity then, that you have on campus today," he says. While the UW doesn't have hard figures on its ethnic makeup in the early '70s, a huge majority of students were white, says UW Registrar W.W. "Tim" Washburn. Men also dominated the student body—only 39 percent were women.

Today 35 percent of all undergraduates come from non-white or multi-ethnic backgrounds and 51 percent of all undergrads are women. "My classes are very diverse," says Alex. "I thought I came from a diverse high school in Spokane, but when I got here, I realized I was really not brought up in this kind of environment. I really like it and I think I learn more," she says.

For our 1972 time traveler, there would be another early shock. The freshmen packed into Kane 130 would be holding cell phones, laptops and PDAs. He would be lost as the professor talked about a Web site syllabus, e-mail addresses and online chat groups.

"I was never around computers my five years at the UW," says Lee. "The only technology I had was a manual, Smith Corona typewriter. It didn't even have an erase key."

When Alex moved into her sorority house, she arrived with a PC and a modem. In considering what classes to register for last quarter, she looked at course syllabi and teaching evaluations on the Web. Starting with winter quarter, she could even register for her classes using the MyUW Web site.

Once in her classes, she was often using the Internet for research. During her winter quarter communications class, for instance, she was part of an online chat group of students in her TA section. "It was very interesting. I never knew that you could do that kind of chat system with a class," she says.

She has also found e-mail helpful when she has questions. "If I am in Kane 130, I'm hesitant to say something. E-mail makes it so much easier than asking something in front of a classroom of 500 students," she explains.

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