Mackenzie Hurlbert – Copy Editor –
School spirit… It’s not just pom-poms and painted faces. It’s the support of a community. It’s the pride in being a part of something bigger than oneself. School spirit is motivating and comforting. As cheesy as all of this may sound, school spirit is necessary for the creation of a functioning campus community. If each student, teacher, or member of the Southern community had his or her own agenda, no loyalty to the school, and no interest in communal events, we would have a weak community in which everyone would fight for their own interest and not the common benefit. I guess I’m suggesting school spirit as a kind of patriotism. But it’s more than a bond among the community, it is also something one can enjoy, partake in, and be entertained by.
With a school like Southern, where there is a large percentage of the student body that commutes, school spirit could be a hard thing to come by. Yes, walking through campus one can see many Southern sweatshirts and Owls sweatpants. Yes, a quick glance at cars in commuter lots will reveal a multitude of Owls stickers mounted in car windows. But what other evidence do we have on campus of our Owl pride? Is there any? After talking to some students on campus, it seems our Southern spirit is lacking, but I believe there are ways we as a community can improve it by getting involved.
Junior Asha McDowell, commuter and English major, said that after transferring from Drexel University, the school spirit at Southern seemed weak. “People were obsessed with Drexel basketball,” said McDowell about her previous college’s school spirit. “I think that people are really lacking school spirit at Southern. People don’t really care.”
As a Southern cheerleader for the 2011-2012 season, McDowell witnessed this lack of spirit firsthand but was forced to stop cheering due to an ankle injury near the end of the season. When asked how she thought Owl pride could be restored and improved, McDowell said, “I think advertising more about the games, making a really big deal about them.”
Fellow commuter and junior Alex Hill felt similarly about Southern spirit. “I don’t feel there’s a lot of school spirit. I don’t think it’s something I see or recognize within the Southern community,” Hill, a liberal studies major, said.
Hill used to live on campus, so she remembered what it was like but thought her transition to commuting affected her life at Southern. “I know a lot of people who participate in Student Government, but I don’t feel like I need to participate,” said Hill. “Because I commute, I have other things to do. I have a job at home.”
The fact that a large portion of Southern students are commuters makes it very hard to develop school spirit. With jobs and a home off campus, many students don’t feel a tie to Southern and are less likely to go to events on campus. Could this be avoided by the creation of more housing, and therefore the increase of on-campus students? Maybe, however that is not a feasible immediate fix.
I believe the only fix to a lack of school spirit is an increase of events on campus—during the day when commuters are here—and increased advertising for these events. Too many clubs and organizations rely on word-of-mouth, a couple posters, and Facebook invites to draw students in. Likewise, most of the events on campus take place later on at night, when most commuters are already home and seated at the dinner table. Similarly, just as it is important to hold more events, it is crucial that students at Southern take advantage of these events! Go, have fun, meet new people! Don’t just show up to take the free stuff and scram.
What do more events have to do with school spirit? My thinking is that campus wide events such as Homecoming and the Inauguration Barbeque really created a communal atmosphere at campus. Many students took advantage of these events to hang with friends and create new ones. Likewise, whether it was to enjoy the free food, music or football game, students at Southern united and commingled as Owls at these events, and it is events such as these that make the school spirit here at Southern stronger.