What do you picture when you think of school spirit: painted faces, pep rallies, pom-poms, screaming students and a large crowd doing the wave when their home town makes that winning touchdown? Those all sound like fair (and rather exciting) descriptors for school spirit, but those are not the only ways to show your admiration for your favorite place of learning. Notice that the items above would not really be used to describe Case Western Reserve University students’ behavior as a whole.
A recent editorial cited CWRU students’ lack of attendance at football games and other campus-wide events as evidence of CWRU’s lack of spirit. However, it was also noted that students do have pride; they just do not express it enthusiastically. This is true, but I argue that it is less a problem than it is a manifestation of the school’s personality. As the article says, we are a “proudly self-admitted ‘nerd school.'” When we talk about our university, we praise it for its academic renown. Sporting events may not be crowded, but when Steve Wozniak visited, tickets sold out almost immediately. Is anyone going to say that CWRU held back on spirit in the massive crowd, the outrageously long line to meet said genius and the great influx of pictures onto social media?
Admittedly, there are many more events on site that would easily excite many students, but when time becomes an issue and people are not instantly excited about it, motivations start to become more extrinsic (food and extra credit). Those four hours that it would take to go to a football game may be useful to do homework, work on research, or attend meetings for our extracurriculars. While that may sound like it is not very spirited, I argue that that is the best way nerds express their pride in their school: their academic enthusiasm.
It is a show of spirit when seniors try their absolute hardest to get into the best graduate school or when members of a club go to a nationwide convention to represent their school and bring back awards—sounds an awful lot like a sporting event, does it not? Even the quiet freshmen studying into the very depths of the night are showing their pride for their place of learning. After all, what better way to show respect to a school than to master its schoolwork? Granted, some may argue these are actions that students do to help themselves; nevertheless, the school is improved as a whole. Surely, if we appreciate more conventional “spirited” events where people enjoy themselves for the benefit of the school, we could accommodate those who push themselves academically for the benefit of the school.
The purpose of spirit is to get people excited about their alma mater. Someone who is full of energy may look more excited about CWRU, but I see no reason why that means that they are any more proud than a quieter student. The volume at which one expresses their gratification does not correlate to how grateful they are. There are many ways that people show their spirit at CWRU, and that is the reason our school is worthy of the appreciation we give it.
To everyone on our sport teams, to everyone who plans the brilliant events on campus and to everyone who attends the events and yells and does everything I mentioned at the top, thank you. You bring a vibrancy and energy that make the campus feel alive. For those who usually avoid most of these events, you will be surprised by how much you would enjoy them and how much you would want to come back for more. As a whole though, it is everyone who goes here and everything they do to show their appreciation that gives our great university its particular brand of nerd spirit.
Kevin Qosja is a freshman at Case Western Reserve University and has school spirit.