Pep rallies, football games, homecoming, prom—there’s definitely a high school experience that left a memory in your mind you wish you could relive. Maybe it was that one night where you got to dress up and release your sub-par dance moves in the gymnasium, or a brisk Friday night football game that had you stomping your feet in the bleachers cheering your team on. Or maybe you were the performer, a member of the football team, marching band or cheer squad, deeply relying on the spirit of your audience to motivate a better performance.
So what happens when there’s no spirit? What happens when you have little audience to perform for and no one supporting your performance? Most importantly, what happens when it just isn’t enough to make a lasting memory?
These are the questions I’ve been asking here at Case Western Reserve University. You see, the college experience is all about the balance—or lack thereof—between work and social life. You want to create bonds that are set in stone. You want to have memories of your time at CWRU that you can look back on and laugh or smile or take pride in.
The difficulty in this is that CWRU falls short in the memory-making department of the college experience.
The Friday of homecoming weekend, a group of friends and I stumbled across the “Blue Block Party” in front of Mitchell’s Ice Cream in Uptown. A friend of mine explained to the rest of us, who had no previous knowledge of such an event, that it was a part of homecoming weekend. How could we have been so oblivious? I mean, homecoming is supposed to be a big deal, right?
Right. It is. And considering the virtual metric ton of emails students get each day pertaining to university news and events, why is it that we hear so much more of university grants that have no direct effect on the majority of students than of homecoming weekend, an upcoming football game or something that allows us to take pride in the community we have joined?
School spirit brings students together. We should be able to boast CWRU as the place we call home for the duration of our time here. We need to hold a love for the achievements of our university in a qualitative way, characterized by spirit and enjoyable memories. Right now, it’s measured quantitatively: we brag that our research grant is this many millions of dollars more than Carnegie Mellon University’s.
This missing piece of the college experience is something that needs to be found and put back into the puzzle. This is not to say that we as students have absolutely no pride in our school whatsoever, but it is obvious that CWRU is more academically defined than socially in respect to the work-life balance.
We rarely have events that allow all of campus to come together, and when we do, the actual attendance can be rated anywhere between lousy and pretty much only the band. The “2,400 seat, state-of-the-art” DiSanto Field boasted on the CWRU athletics page is lucky to see a couple hundred attendees for games of any sport unless there’s incentive, like free shirts that postpone your load of laundry by maybe one day at the most.
Sure, we aren’t going to see thousands of students rallying for a Division III team because, well, it’s Division III. But it’s more important to note that there really isn’t incentive for participation. It’s a cycle that CWRU has fallen into. When we finally attend a game, we laugh at the fact that the band is just about the only group of spectators, and then we have no interest or motivation in returning to another game. Rinse and repeat with every other student, and voila, you have a tarnished school spirit.
The lack of support our athletics department receives from students isn’t wholly CWRU’s fault. The academic rigor here leaves little time to actually go to a game in the first place, and the school embraces the “nerd school” status more than it does the pep rally hype status. Participation from students is the nutshell solution here, but it’s not as simple as pinning flyers about just another football game this weekend—there needs to be excitement.
Enter Blue CWRU. Blue CWRU is a student-run organization that set out to fix this very problem in the 2014-2015 school year. Incentivizing games with free merchandise and adding the exact school spirit we’re missing, Blue CWRU seems to be just what we needed.
But take a look at Blue CWRU’s OrgSync page and you will find that the only three events Blue CWRU have posted this entire semester thus far have a whopping four cumulative RSVPs.
This is not without saying that Blue CWRU has accomplished far more than of any of our previous attempts and has the biggest potential for a solution. It’s an active step towards a solution, but it needs recognition from the university so that it is advertised and funded on a much larger scale if we want to transform the sludge in our trudge to the pep in our step.
In the meantime, go out and support the teams that represent the community you’re living in. Grab a group of friends and develop the lasting memories that make up your very own college experience.
Jason Richards is a first-year computer engineering student. He’s found on the second floor of Cutler House more often than on the first floor where he actually lives.