By Bolaji Oke-Samuel, section editor: student voices (email@example.com)
I am just another commuter passing through UIC and wondering why there seems to be a lack of school spirit among the UIC student body. In this post, I will be exploring my observations based on my experience as a part of the UIC student body. My observations are not to be held as finalities as I would also love to hear the thoughts of my readers on this issue. So if you have any thoughts, comments and observations of your own pertaining to this issue please kindly make them known in the comment box below.
I define school spirit as the ability of a school to balance school work and extracurricular activities. If a school lacks school spirit it means that, the school work in such school outweighs its extracurricular activities. On a simpler level, school spirit is the urge of the student body to affiliate themselves with the school both within the school campus and outside the school campus.
Students who have school spirit and are proud to be affiliated with a school usually portray school spirit in the representation of the school colors in any expressive form (in their dressing) on campus or off-campus and social interaction with other members of the school by attending events and socializing with people outside the classroom environment.
Let us begin with the expressive form of portraying school spirit. Why do students of UIC find it difficult to wear the school colors or gear? One popular explanation is that the UIC gear is expensive i.e. not affordable to the average student and it is not available at other vendors outside of UIC. This is true because I visit the UIC bookstore occasionally looking to purchase some UIC gear when I take a glance at the price tag, I find myself walking away from the merchandise. Recently, there has been some discounted sales at the UIC bookstore however the sale items either are of no immediate interest to me or are of one size on the far end of my size range.
However, there are other creative ways to portray school spirit in an expressive manner, which does not require buying expensive and often unavailable UIC merchandise. Apart from wearing the UIC colors or in addition to doing so would be attending UIC events and activities.
It is difficult for me as a commuter to partake in UIC activities because I do not live on or near campus. However, most UIC students who do live on campus also do not find themselves at these campus events and activities. For some, the problem with the UIC events is that they are not appealing and the well-known call for free food is not enough incentive for them to spend an hour or more of their time doing something that they do not care about.
The usual commuter excuse is that the events are scheduled late at night when most commuter students are either on their way home or preparing to leave Campus. The question here is how can the UIC campus program committee consider the timing and the theme of their events to favor all members of the student body? And is this task possible?
Is it possible that the lack of school spirit at UIC is due to the student engagement in social networking activities rather than actual social efforts that requires physical interaction. We have all heard stories about people who spend hours on end in front of their computers and mobile devices on Facebook, Twitter and the likes. If campus events are appealing, people might be inclined to leave their rooms and cyberspace to attend such events, which is a great show of school spirit.
According to this campus program e-card, students will rather complain about how there are not enough events on campus than attending one. This might be because students might be accustomed to the idea that there is not much to do on campus. According to Amy Zaiter, who has experienced UIC as a commuter and a resident of the UIC dormitory. She holds that she began to appreciate UIC on a different level when she became familiar with the world outside the four walls of the school. Amy’s view of UIC is one level of appreciation however; another level of appreciation can be achieved when one keeps an open mind towards campus activities. A personal example occurred this semester when I attended the UIC annual cultural showcase.
This event altered my perspective towards UIC and my attachment to the school as a student. I heard about the event through the UIC mass mail and I made up my mind to attend this particular event because it fit well enough into my hectic commuter schedule. I had so much fun at this event and after that; I could not help but proclaim that I actually had fun at UIC for once in about two years since I enrolled. Although I was forced to leave the event a few minutes early because I had to catch a train back home and I joined the event about an hour after it began, I enjoyed every bit of the show that I was able to witness.
To wrap this up, I have realized that the situation at UIC is different from other schools, which is one of many things that makes our school unique. We might not have affordable gear, or a football team or a wide range of activities to choose from however, this just means that UIC students who are proud of the school have to be more creative in their show of school spirit.