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What’s hot for fall for UW-Madison students

August 27, 2007

Whether it’s Harry Potter, online banking, the iPhone or a Zumba workout, University of Wisconsin–Madison students are at the forefront of trends hitting college campuses this fall. Here’s a look at the latest and greatest in fashion, décor and design, books, finance, fitness and technology as students return to campus later this week.

Technology: The social networking site Facebook, which has almost 55,000 UW–Madison members, dominates the UW–Madison landscape, according to Greg Downey, associate professor in the schools of Library and Information Studies and Journalism and Mass Communication.

Facebook applications — such as graffiti, events and top friends — show that the Web site is testing its boundaries. The amount of personal information revealed online is constantly changing, says Downey, adding that people struggle to choose between privacy and the ability to find and be found by others.

"The future of social networking is unpredictable, but shaped somewhat by the books we read and even world events like 9/11," says Downey.

For more information, contact Downey at (608) 225-3809 or

Gadgets: The iPhone is leading new student technology trends this fall, and those UW–Madison students who want to be the "first ones on the block" will have it, says Brian Rust, communications manager for the Division of Information Technology (DoIT). Other technology is moving toward greater convenience, laptop screens are sharper, and audio and video are higher quality, Rust says.

According to a spring DoIT survey of UW–Madison students, 64 percent use an iPod or other mp3 player; 71 percent use text messaging; 72 percent use Facebook; and 65 percent watch YouTube.

For more information, contact Rust at (608) 263-9484 or

Fitness: With increasing national attention on the importance of fitness in a healthy lifestyle, UW–Madison Recreational Sports will again offer students more than 100 hours of group fitness classes each week this fall. New classes include Zumba, a Latin cardio workout labeled "party in a box," and African dance, says Lori Devine, fitness director for Recreational Sports.

Classes that incorporate more than one physical element continue to grow in popularity, and 45-minute lunch-hour classes will be offered to counteract the No. 1 reason people quit fitness routines: lack of time. The personal training program at the Southeast Recreation Facility (SERF) has grown to more than 500 clients, with a similar program called Symmetry launching this fall, says Devine. Symmetry focuses on lifestyle and weight management, including eating and exercise routines and stress management.

All SERF fitness directors and personal trainers are UW–Madison students and are nationally certified. For more information, contact Devine at (608) 262-4268 or

Sports: Not all of the action takes place on the field at Camp Randall. Nearly 80 percent of UW–Madison students are also staying active with the Division of Recreational Sports, including club and intramural sports. Newer clubs on campus include Master’s Swim Club, founded in late spring; Wrestling Club, which finished second in the state against other club teams last year; and Broomball, a popular co-ed team intramural sport. Other nationally competitive club teams include men’s Ultimate Frisbee, women’s lacrosse, tennis and figure skating. UW–Madison will host its first intramural flag football state tournament in this fall.

"In the future, I think we’ll see growth due to student dedication. They play their hearts out to achieve this type of success," says Becky Dahl, assistant program director for intramural and club sports in the Division of Recreational Sports.

For more information, contact Dahl at (608) 262-9696 or

Décor: Andy Warhol and Audrey Hepburn top the poster-décor trends in student housing this year, according to Kimm VanDen Heuvel, a student in the School of Human Ecology at UW–Madison. She says geometric shapes — like those found in architecture — are becoming popular in apartment and residence hall room design. VanDen Heuvel says walls and furniture are neutral, accentuated by brightly colored pillows and posters. New student housing on campus reflect these trends.

In University Housing, walls in Newell J. Smith and Ogg halls are neutral, and hallways are accented with bright, distinguishing colors, according to Julie Barrette, University Housing facility designer. A new phase in student housing has begun, moving toward increased privacy and away from the colors and styles of current housing built in the late 1960s.

For more information, contact Barrette at (608) 262-8878 or

Fashion: To be fashionable is no longer defined by one designer or specific clothing store. According to environment, textiles and design professor Diane Sheehan, the most recent fashion trends seem to follow how clothes are made and the social values that can be tied to production.

"There is no code anymore in the fashion world," Sheehan says. "Students are more interested in social consciousness when they dress." Many of Sheehan’s students purchase clothing and materials from Fair Indigo, a fashion retailer based in Madison that makes sure their clothing is produced in fair trade, socially conscious conditions.

For more information, contact Sheehan at (608) 262-1119 or

Books: At each campus coffee shop, park bench and table at the Memorial Union Terrace, there is likely to be someone gripping the binding and anxiously reading the final book in the Harry Potter series of seven. "The most popular, important book, hands down, that you will all have read will be ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,’" professor of English and American studies Russ Castronovo says. "J.K. Rowling will be the thing that everybody will have read."

Castronovo also mentions the novel "Falling Man" by Don DeLillo, a story that focuses on personal experiences of individuals in New York after 9/11, showing the posttraumatic stress they underwent after being in the towers as they fell. "Writers, intellectuals and readers are achieving a distance," Castronovo says about the time that has passed since the tragedy. As a result, he feels readers can take in the novel as a piece of fiction rather than a documentary.

For more information, contact Castronovo at (608) 263-7467 or

Money: A busy lifestyle and demanding social life can leave students little time and energy to balance checkbooks or save receipts. Instead, assistant professor in the Department of Consumer Science Michael S. Gutter suggests using electronic banking to monitor spending.

According to Gutter, students can set up reminder e-mails and use online links to pay their bills. Students can also use other computer programs and even their cell phones to set calendars to alert them when bills are due.

"If students can learn one thing about money management, it is the difference between ‘wants’ and ‘needs.’ So much of what we think we ‘need’ is a ‘want,’" Gutter adds.

For more information, contact Gutter at (608) 262-5498 or

Tags: student life