Redefining school spirit

I may actually like UB...

In roughly a month I will don my “hyper blue” cap and gown and skip across the stage in Alumni Arena towards my $20,000 piece of paper.

Normally I would say, “Good riddance, UB,” but is that really how I feel?

When I was in the bookstore a few weeks ago to purchase my cap and gown I found myself looking at the UB Alumni paraphernalia. My first thought was “Oh boy. Way to be grammatically incorrect.” ALUMNUS is SINGULAR, UB. However, my second thought was, “Can I even wear one of these T-shirts without feeling like a fraud?”

The answer, I’ve concluded, is yes and no.

“School spirit” in its traditional sense usually means rah rah rah, go team, UB rules, go Bulls! It means cheering on your sports teams, telling all your friends how “epic” the football game was, wearing a blue wig and painting “UB” on your naked skin. School spirit generally means lots of blue body paint and strained vocal cords.

If this is the definition of “school spirit” then I have absolutely none. I’ve been to maybe four football games in my four years here. I don’t care about UB sports. I don’t own anything in UB blue. I don’t even read the sports section of the newspaper I work for. Quite frankly, I did not go to college to root for sports teams and have team spirit. I think that may have been part of the reason why I chose not to transfer to UNC Chapel Hill. Yes, UNC is a better school but unlike UB, their sports program doesn’t, by definition, “blow.” I would feel obligated to care…and I just don’t want to.

The more I turn this “school spirit” debate over in my head though, the more I begin to think that if I redefine school spirit then I may actually have some. This summer, a senior from my high school was asking me about UB. She was faced with the same decision I was as a senior: Do we spend the $200,000 and go Ivy League, or do we save our pennies and go to a highly respected state school?

As I was talking to her about UB, the classes, the majors, the teachers–I realized that I would never have gotten half of the experience that I currently put on my resume if it weren’t for this school. I never would have four years of constant journalism writing, editing and publication under my belt. My portfolio wouldn’t be bursting out of its folder. I never would have gotten such personal letters of recommendation to get me into Columbia. I’ve worked with journalists who have worked for The Boston Globe, USA Today, the New York Times, the Buffalo News and even at newspapers abroad. I’ve been taught one-on-one by Folger Shakespeare Scholars. I’ve met Gov. Paterson, the Dalai Lama, Margaret Atwood, Stephen Colbert, Jason Mraz, Vice President Joe Biden, Karl Rove, Jon Stewart and many others as a direct result of attending UB.

So yes, I do have school spirit…just not the kind that society thinks I should have. I love UB for its academic opportunities, for the fact that (most) of its faculty and staff (Nicole in the English office, Barbara Bono, Claire Schen!) care about students even if the administration doesn’t. Despite budget cuts and scheming higher-ups (I’m talking about you President Simpson) trying to swindle students out of every dime, I wouldn’t change my college decision. I learned a lot, I saved money (even if Simpson is trying to nix that), I had great experiences.

UB is what you make of it. There are so many resources, you just have to find them and take advantage of them.

Plus, from the looks of things, students are staging rallies again to protest budget cuts and tuition increases. Students may care again. Things may change! Students got their financial aid back, maybe they’ll get tuition decreased, too!

I guess I am a believer in UB–though I will NEVER be a UBBeliever, President Simpson’s glorified PR cult for the university.

Who knew I could have school spirit? I certainly didn’t.


One comment

  1. meg · April 3, 2010

    this is the perfect definition of school spirit. i feel the same way haha. ❤

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