What’s the point? School spirit

Pro

When I think about how to describe Laurier, school spirit is the first thing that comes to mind. It’s essential to the atmosphere of our campus; it is something that I feel sets us apart from other universities.

When students step onto campus for Orientation Week, they are immediately thrust into the centre of it. They are placed on a colour team (I was a Blue Lycan in my first year) and expected to cheer.

School spirit creates school pride, which is crucial in creating a community people are proud to belong to. Without pride, students won’t feel the need to be involved in or be responsible for shaping the Laurier they want to see.

Homecoming is an example of where we all unite as one to cheer on the football team and bad-mouth our opponent. Whether having purple and gold body paint all over your chest, wearing a beer-can-dispensing helmet or waving signs and pom-poms in the air, school spirit allows everyone to show their true selves.

While our first priority is school (for most part), from experience I can say the more you put into your university experience, the more you get out of it.

You will not reflect on how you did on your midterms and essays, you will look back fondly on the fun you had while displaying school spirit.

Everyone can and should embody school spirit in some way. Whether it’s supporting a club or shaking “clappers” at a varsity game, cheering allows everybody to be accepted, no matter how loud they are or how embarrassed they feel.

School spirit raises morale and gives everyone a way to relate to one another through our love for Laurier and all it has to offer.

Sports, games, clubs and activities all require spirit from those participating and support from
those watching.

Cheering and school spirit are quite infectious and can help motivate people to accomplish great things. I think we’re all eager to stand up and shout that it’s great to be a Laurier Golden Hawk; yes, it’s great to be a Laurier Golden Hawk!

-Jaclyn Stief

Con

In all my time at Laurier, I’ve never once rocked out with my hawk out.

That is to say, I’ve never worn a combination of purple and gold clothing. I’ve never painted my face. I’ve even been known to walk on the hawk when the Hall of Fame is crowded. Ultimately, I’m just not the school spirit type.

Yet despite my lack of cheering, chanting or having a big hawk, I’ve never felt out of place at Laurier.

Even at the most spirited of schools, a peppy attitude and sense of Golden Hawk identity just aren’t essential elements of university life.

Of course, that doesn’t mean they aren’t fun. I love going to football games and cheering on the Hawks and, trust me, I have a disdain for Western just like any other Laurier student.

I certainly recognize how fun it can be to have school spirit. The sense of belonging and community enhances the university experience for a large portion of the student population.

However, there is such a thing as too much spirit. There are at least two ways in which the ultra-spirited culture at Laurier creates problems.

The first is that it has a divisive effect. School spirit is pushed on everyone so strongly right from Orientation Week that it’s nearly inescapable. The problem with this is that spirit isn’t just spirit – it comes along with a set of rules about what to wear, what events to go to and how to act.

Those that don’t buy into all of this feel like they are somehow strange, whereas those who do adopt these habits might not get the opportunity to fully explore their own individuality. The result is that Laurier is too much like a high school.

Secondly, we need to acknowledge that there is a difference between supporting Laurier in spirit and supporting Laurier in practice.

It’s great to love the school that you go to, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t criticize it. Laurier has its fair share of issues, such as overinflated acceptance rates and a poor environmental track record.

These issues aren’t going to be solved by cheering. They are to be addressed by critical students who take their school seriously.

So, yes, it’s great to be a Golden Hawk. But let’s not shout it out too often, or it may not always be the case.

-Dave Shore

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