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Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns: What's in A Name?

We're finally putting this debate to rest. Or something like that.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

This debate always picks up when the Cajuns play an in-state school. But really, ever since changing their name to The University of Louisiana at Lafayette, when we refer to the them as UL, we get this.

I knew going into this assignment that I would catch some flack. Growing up in Acadiana and graduating from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, you gain a special understanding of the Cajun temperament. (Cajun as in the culture, not fanhood.) But holy hell, do you people bring the crazy from all sides. To this day, I have yet to find an acceptable way to refer to The University of Louisiana at Lafayette using an acronym (a la UNC)  or shorthand. (a la CAL)

Well that dog won't hunt, monsignor.

I will not be forced to write out UL Lafayette, or refer to an entire subculture when writing about this team. I've found all the appropriate documentation. I've consulted the experts. And I've prayed to the olde gods and the new. Let's find us an acronym.


We're starting where we left off. This one is easy to type, and isn't currently used by other institutions. "But what about Louisville?" Shutup. They use UofL.

The university won't claim "UL" in any official document or record that I could find, but they do use it in very public ways. In most cases, this would be the end of the discussion, but this isn't most cases.

Now let's consult University of Louisiana System policy number M-2. "The use of the two-letter University of Louisiana abbreviation, "UL," and/or the phrase "U of L" are prohibited by the university or any of its affiliated organizations." And there it is.

Verdict: FAILED


This seems like the next logical turn. The Warhawks in Monroe use ULM in their identity standards manual as their preferred name for athletic use. But not UL Lafayette. The very first line in their Inaccurate References section of their Proper Use page precludes the use of ULL. And let's be honest. The school has to get some say in how it is referred to.

But the system policy linked above does explicitly state, "For academic, public relations, athletic, as well as other purposes not specified, the use of the University of Louisiana abbreviation must always include the abbreviation for the municipal location of the institution. For example, ULR is appropriate for University of Louisiana at Rayne."

So what the hell? The university system requires it, but the university bans it. Welcome to Louisiana, folks.

Verdict: NO?


Now this is curious. I was planning on writing this post a month ago. In doing my research, I went to the university Proper Use page and read this. "Do not use hyphens or commas in the name, abbreviation, or nickname." Interestingly, that section has been removed.

So can we use UL-L? Well, the system policy does require the use of "at" in the full name, and makes it a point to specify ULX. (whereas "X" is the first letter of the municipality) as the format of choice, so I'm going with no.

Verdict: NOPE

U La La or UL Laf

Also removed from the university Proper use page was the entry, "Do not use Laf or L (instead of Lafayette), La or LA (instead of Louisiana)." But based on our previous conclusions, and the prefered format from the system policy, we have to judge this one the same. Plus if you say U La La, you are just being a dick.



That's right. LA, as in the abbreviation for Louisiana. While using "The University of Louisiana" without a municipality is explicitly banned, using just the state is not. As a matter of fact, this has precedent. The University of Texas at Austin is known as just Texas in athletics. The problem is, this isn't Texas. Unlike the other 49 states, Louisiana practices civil law, and precedent doesn't mean crap.

Also, for every Texas there is a Georgia, who still uses the acronym UGA. The other thing the Cajuns don't have is state or system flagship status. This is the crux of most of these arguments, and a very valid one.

Verdict: NEAUX

So, what have we learned? Nothing really. UL Lafayette is the fastest growing university in Louisiana, but is still an equal part of the University of Louisiana System. Without flagship status, they can't hope to pry the designation of UL from the other schools in the UL System.

And this article would be pointless if I didn't mention LSU. As the only public 4-year university in Louisiana not in the UL System, they hold flagship status and a considerable amount of influence. In 1984, the then University of Southwestern Louisiana formally changed its name to the University of Louisiana. They issued diplomas with it and everything. But the name change was challenged in court by the Tiger-influenced Louisiana Board of Regents.

USL lost and had to issue a second set of diplomas that included "Southwestern." As much as LSU fans would love to deny it, former LSU Chancellor James H. Wharton openly admitted that he felt the name change would diminish LSU's image. Whether that had any effect on the outcome of the case is unknown, but it's clear LSU had a horse in the race.

So, how should we refer to The University of Louisiana at Lafayette? However the hell you want. Cajun fans will call themselves Louisiana and use UL. ULM fans will say U La La, and Tech supporters will say ULL. LSU fans will call them USL, and Tulane fans will just call everyone else poor.

How will I refer to the school? By what they want to be called -- UL. I mostly write for Cajun fans, and when I don't, I'll just call them the Cajuns or type out UL Lafayette. Accept that or don't, I don't really care.

Until the school and system come to an accord, either amicably or legally, we have no formal shorthand for UL Lafayette. And UL fans (yes, UL) should be fine with that. They are fighting for a name they honestly feel they deserve. What other schools refer to you as in the mean time is inconsequential, because as long as they are complaining, you have their attention.