School spirit conjures up images of “High School Musical”-esque rallies where every student is proudly wearing their school colors. If you went to high school in the U.S., you’re probably used to homecoming rallies and spirit weeks, and you may have thought you would find that here on campus. Is there a distinct campus identity at USF, or are we just students going to university? The opinions of the Foghorn staff are varied.
If campus atmosphere played a part in our decision to go here, most of us intentionally went to USF because there isn’t that typical “sport spirit” vibe. A lot of us grew up in traditional school-spirited environments and actively wanted to avoid that in college. In general, most of us think that students who decide to go to USF know that the campus is going to have a calmer atmosphere than other schools and either actively seek it out or don’t care enough to be disappointed by it. USF has a unique campus setup and outlook on education, and if we wanted to go to a school with a clearer “identity,” then we would have gone there. We don’t need the school to provide our community events for us –– we can find our own. Our pride comes from the city. After all, it will always be a challenge to generate school spirit at USF because it has to compete with the city. We have pride in the the way our school utilizes its location within it, and that’s a different— but just as valid— form of school pride.
Also, just because we don’t have the same campus vibe as schools like Duke University or University of Arizona, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have school spirit. School spirit can be more community-based; it can be more centered around what USF values, such as our commitment to social justice.
However, there is a segment of the staff who believe that USF lacks spirit and enthusiasm for our school. There’s an old joke that asks, “What’s the difference between the U.S. and yogurt?”
The punchline is, “If you leave yogurt alone for 300 years, it’ll develop a culture.”
Some members of staff apply that mentality to USF. They find that there is a sense of complacency among students; there’s a lack of awareness of sports and arts events that happen around campus. In many ways, this is okay because we’re adults and we can make our college experience what we want. However, it would be nice if students were more invested in the University community. While the student body is partially to blame for their own lack of enthusiasm, USF could be investing a lot more in the cultivation of student organizations that can lead to stronger feelings of community (though they do try, as you can see from various orgs). Those of us who think USF could have a stronger sense of school spirit aren’t asking to suddenly become a big sports school. We know that USF will never be that school you go to if you want a spirit-centered experience, and most of us don’t want that. However, we want to build a sense of school pride in other aspects of USF, like our location and our values.
All of us acknowledge that USF is not the place you go to for intense school spirit –– but many of us don’t have a problem with that. Our pride in our school comes from meeting overwhelmingly kind people and amazing professors who change a student’s outlook on the world. Our pride in our school comes from the city we’re in and how we use it. Some of us do hope that we could have a stronger campus identity, but we’re happy to be where we are.