As I entered my first year at Trinity, I remember ample discussion around our lack of school spirit. At the time, it didn’t strike me as anything out of the ordinary; the students at my high school had many of the same complaints. Student turnout at football games was low, homecoming celebrations were always lackluster and since our mascot was pretty racist (a Native American Warrior), we couldn’t exactly have someone dress up as him and run around the field.
During my high school career, these faults never bothered me much. So when I heard some similar complaints at Trinity, I didn’t pay it much mind. I figured Trinity and my high school simply both had rigorous courses and a busy student body. However, while that may be true, I’ve learned that this supposed absence of “school spirit” at Trinity is not as dire as people make it out to be.
With all the recent talk about our ranking as the number one school in Texas, it’s easy to start comparing ourselves to some of the biggest names in the state. As a result, our eyes are drawn to the huge, bombastic nature of their student bodies. We gawk at the massive crowds at the UT football games and the undying dedication of the house system at Rice University, and in comparison our modest Stand Band and the admittedly overhyped Nacho Hour seem insignificant.
Between President Anderson’s Campus Master Plan, the ever-increasing size of our first-year classes and our recent designation as a National Historic District campus, we easily get caught-up in the expectation for our school to be full of spectacle. But I would argue that we should not expect Trinity students to become something that we are not and do not want to be.
Fellow students, take a moment to think about any extracurricular activities you’re involved in. How many jobs or internships are you working? How many classes are you taking? Are you doing any research? If you aren’t doing many of those things, how many friends do you have that are? If I had to guess, I’d say that your involvement is higher than the average student at one of those mega-universities. Between the sheer amount of campus activities that students are involved in or connected to, we manage to foster a significantly active student atmosphere with a very small amount of people.
I’m not just saying this to brag about how busy we are. This involvement means more than a checklist to fill our résumés. Rather, in my experience at Trinity, it seems like there’s a contagious desire to contribute. Students don’t usually join clubs here because it looks good or because they just want to seem involved. They’re joining these organizations because they sincerely want to improve them, put their own twist on them and enjoy them to the fullest extent.
Many of my closest friends whom I met in my first year here did not classify themselves as outgoing or even as overachievers. Now, most of them have either started their own club, work multiple campus jobs or play in multiple music ensembles. Sure, you won’t find them in maroon face paint cheering at a Trinity football game, but their school spirit resides in their intense drive to add something to the campus. Our Stand Band may seem small if you compare them to Rice’s Marching Owl Band, but those nine or 10 students are choosing to spend their Saturday cheering on our team in addition to the myriad of other responsibilities they have to take care of. They are there not because it helps them get a job in the future, but because they sincerely enjoy it and want to contribute to the community.
I challenge those who worry about Trinity’s lack of school spirit to expand their definition of dedication to our campus. Maybe they aren’t so interested in the shouting match that is college rivalries because they are more worried about whether this year’s Lunar New Year event will run smoothly. If you spend time to look beyond the superficiality of loud school pride, I think you’ll find a dedicated students who are willing to stretch their schedules to the limit for the sake of quality experiences.