My high school was, like every high school, full of ups and downs. It provided a top-notch education, along with excellent athletics and a vibrant arts department that funded the theatre, choir, and band groups in the school.
But it lacked something in every part of the school: school spirit.
This problem manifested itself in many ways in my high school, but I only realized that all these manifestations were linked when I left my high school. It was present in the majority of students seeing high school as a way to get to a good college. It was present in how posters and flyers that were posted around the school to promote school unity or events were aggressively torn down or graffitied. It was apparent in how almost every event held by student and even school organizations was mainly attended by the family of the students who were part of the event—there was no interest in attending events you weren’t personally involved with.
In some ways, school spirit was something I wasn’t looking for in a college.
School spirit had always been associated with having a student body that was disproportionately inclined to sports and sporting events, and I wanted a school that was equally interested in a variety of fields, not just athletics.
But after spending some time at UR, it is clear that school spirit is something every part of the University needs.
It affects attendance at Class Council events, sporting events, dance group performances, and cultural group events, just to name a few.
When a student body has pride in its university, it in turn wants to support the population that makes up the university, and its students often express this support by being active in the school’s community.
UR definitely has some school spirit; without it, the University would certainly not be 32nd on US News & World Report’s list of top colleges in the country. Students come to the University because they genuinely want to, and that’s apparent in the large percentage of Early Decision students that make up the population. It’s apparent in the painted tunnel and in the proliferation of images of Rocky all around campus.
But with all the University offers and with all that it can offer, the school spirit present is simply not as high as it could, or even should, be.
For a school that boasts over 285 student-run organizations, UR’s school spirit does not mirror this enthusiasm. While the 2020 Class Council was planning a spirit basketball game, we reached out to several student run spirit groups for co-sponsorship. None of the groups got back to us, even after some of us tracking specific members of each group down to ask them if they were able to help with the game.
But it is not just the spirit groups that reflect the University’s lack of enthusiasm. Many groups resort to providing free pizza or other types of free merchandise to get people to attend their events, and while free stuff is a great aspect of school events, it should not be the sole or the main reason people show up to events. Sometimes the free food has no relation to the event at all, but is just offered so that students who are drawn in by the refreshments might possibly also participate in the activities of the general event.
I think the key to drumming up more school spirit is for the University to focus on what is special about UR. It does sound like a cheesy solution, but it doesn’t make it any less true. By focusing on UR’s positive traits, the student body might develop more pride in being part of the UR community and history. People can appreciate how all of the buildings have red brick, which gives the entire campus a smooth, cohesive feel, or how the University has opened all-gender bathrooms, or how all the trees on campus change color during the fall, making the entire campus look that much more picturesque.
Over time, an accumulation of small appreciations like these will foster a greater school spirit than the one we have now, and the University will be better off because of it.