Annie Flatt

Traditional school spirit is overrated

September 26, 2022

Upon arriving at UVM my first year, it became clear that the University displays school spirit in an unconventional way.

Compared to schools like The University of Alabama or the University of Michigan, where students participate in game day festivities and uphold long-standing superstitions, UVM has very few traditions that are meant to instill a sense of pride in its student body.

However, I believe this is a good thing, as it creates an environment where UVM students are more likely to call out flaws in the University that can lead to positive change.

While UVM has a few annual events that students look forward to—such as Convocation, rail jams and SpringFest—we lack many traditional celebrations, such as homecoming games and tailgates, which bring out the school pride at many other schools.

There are a few reasons for this, including UVM’s lack of a varsity football team and the smaller size of Burlington compared to some of the other school pride-filled city campuses, according to a Sept. 24, 2015 Vermont Cynic article.

However, what we may seem to lack in traditional school spirit, we make up for in our commitment to the betterment of the University.

UVM has had multiple protests in response to policies and actions from the University that students felt perpetuated injustice, covering everything from the underpayment of staff to the mishandling of sexual misconduct on campus as well as the movement to end UVM’s endowment from the fossil fuel industry.

Students see issues and take action to foster positive change. They work to make our campus a safer and more inclusive place.

My stepdad went to Clemson University in South Carolina and loved his time there. He made some of his closest friends in college and still returns for football games whenever possible.

However, the most recent protest at Clemson was against a mask mandate that was a campus COVID-19 policy last spring, according to an April 20, 2021 Greenville News article.

We all pick our battles, and while I am glad Clemson students are allowed to exercise their right to protest, I am much more impressed by the issues UVM students choose to fight for.

Sometimes I wish we did have football games, tailgating and all of the things I was told college would be when I was growing up. I would love to feel a connection to the University itself, but that’s not the most important thing for me.

I much prefer attending a university where the students care about one another more than they care about the reputation of the university, and where students have no problem speaking out when they see something that needs changing. 

Attending those protests and seeing the passion my peers have makes me more proud of my school than any football game could, and I wouldn’t trade that for a thing.

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