Is Our School Spirit Deflated?
It’s no secret that Tufts’ school spirit isn’t at the forefront of most students’ minds. It would be a stretch for the majority of the campus to know who won the last volleyball game—getting people to actually go to a game is harder still. Some people may not really care about the lack of school spirit at Tufts or even consider how it may impact their college experience. There are plenty of universities that students attend specifically so that they can feel part of a larger community, where their mascot becomes a facet of their identity. I have no doubt that Tufts students love Tufts, but they most likely did not choose this school because of its spirit. Tufts University Spirit Coalition (TUSC) is of the belief that more spirit can do a lot for our school. Our campus and students is quirky and eclectic, and we’re proud of it. TUSC appreciates Tufts’ individuality, but thinks that students would be happier if we were more unified by some nice baby blue and brown. It’s hard to find one thing that 5,000 college-aged students have in common, but as opinionated as Tufts students are, we can pretty much all agree that we like this place. Why not make that fact more pronounced?
TUSC, a subgroup of the Tufts Programming Board, puts on the well-loved Tuftonia’s Day, as well as Mr. Jumbo, and various pep rallies. Their new vision, though, is to grow. Nick Vik, the president of TUSC, rejects the idea that school spirit must be directly associated with sporting events. He wants Tufts’ spirit to appeal to all of the many different types of people on campus. He says that TUSC recognizes and values the eccentricity of the campus, and wants school spirit to manifest in all areas. To do so, he plans on playing to the strengths of Tufts’ students. “We have unreal dance groups here,” Vik says. “We’re thinking about doing a ‘Tufts’ Best Dance Crew’ kind of thing.” This event would be an excellent example of TUSC raising bringing attention to our strengths, and boosting a unique school spirit. School spirit is about recognizing the achievements and skills of all our peers, not only our athletes.
This is not to say that it isn’t important to support athletics. “It isn’t just because we’re a NESCAC school that we don’t have great turnout for games.” Vik claims. Though most students didn’t choose Tufts so that they could go to the field hockey games every Saturday, for example, maybe they should consider it… Tufts’ sports teams generally perform quite while against other competitors in the NESCAC, but many other schools have better home game turnouts than we do. “Tailgating may be crucial to get people to games,” Vik says, “It makes games more of an event, [instead of] another random thing happening on campus.”
Vik says that raising school spirit, among other perks, will also lead to a more connected alumni community. He pointed out, “A Blue Devil will almost always hire a Blue Devil, but will a Jumbo always hire a Jumbo?” Improving school spirit at Tufts can help foster a stronger identity between past and current Tufts students.
Given all this, TUSC may seem like they’ve got it all together. But the group is relatively obscure; one of the best things about the group is their openness and acceptance. “We’re very much open to ideas, we want to be inclusive,” Vik encourages. Not many people know about TUSC, or that they’re making a hard effort to bring school spirit to Tufts – and doing so in bigger ways than just selling 100 hotdogs before football games. But this lack of recognition isn’t necessarily a bad thing; they can tap into Tufts’ various social networks without being constrained to one group or project. With more people from whom to get input, it will be easier for TUSC to find ways to make school spirit a unifying factor for all students.
Tufts students may not realize how much school spirit can contribute positively to our college experience because Tufts has never had strong school spirit—and how can you miss something you’ve never had? But TUSC feels strongly that it can make Tufts an even better place. If you don’t feel as if school spirit is lacking, or if you don’t think that lacking school spirit poses a problem, look how many people are sporting other colleges’ t-shirts around campus, and remind yourself how good a little jumbo swag looks on everyone!