Some say Ithaca College doesn’t have a lot of school spirit. If you’re one of these people, you’re probably just thinking of school spirit differently than I am.
I think the Ithaca College community does have a lot of school spirit, but we’ve been conditioned to define school spirit simply by appearance. For example, in high school, many of us had dress-up days and outrageous pep rallies during the school day.
What’s unique about the college’s school spirit is that it’s not just about athletics. Most of my friends who attend Big 10 universities see school spirit as tailgating for football games or getting dressed in oversized school t-shirts, colorful spandex, tube socks and temporary tattoos. Here at Ithaca College, we do things a little differently.
Of course we have the students who show an amazing amount of support for our athletic teams. I mean, we’re the school with the most varsity team victories in the Empire 8. But our students also show their support in ways other than attending sporting events. Our a cappella groups consistently fill Emerson Suites, and our Relay for Life raises the most money of any American Cancer Society event in Tompkins County. Doesn’t this also count as showing school spirit?
When I was a senator for the class of 2013 both my freshman and sophomore year, my peers would tell me how they felt school spirit was lacking here. Spirit Week would be the solution to showing the campus community that we really do have school spirit and that we show it in different ways.
IC Spirit Week reached out to organizations that had a similar mission to our committee: to unify the campus community and build a strong connection to Ithaca College. We had a great response rate from these groups that had wanted to help our cause. In order to create better awareness about our plan to increase school spirit, we utilized traditions that already had a strong presence on campus, such as Mr. and Ms. Ithaca and Habidash. We then reached out to other organizations who then used their creativity to create new events for IC Spirit Week. We had a diverse schedule of events, and it showed that our students do show their passion for the college through attendance at these events.
This year, we’ve built upon our events from last year and responded to what students wanted to see done differently. Our communication efforts are a lot stronger than last year, and our volunteers are now a blend of students who participated last year and those who are new to IC Spirit Week. We’ve become a registered organization because we knew this would help in our efforts to keep Spirit Week a yearly tradition.
You should care about IC Spirit Week because we need to show support for our student organizations, our athletic teams and our additional college affinity groups. These members work hard all year long to bring the campus community together and deserve to be recognized for their efforts. Last year was the first time IC Spirit Week took place, and it was a great learning opportunity to see how students responded to what would hopefully become a new school tradition. By having IC Spirit Week lead into Alumni Weekend, we hope that as our recent graduates come back to visit the college, they remember their favorite events from Spirit Week.
Vice President Maeghan Willis and I have had the incredible opportunity to present our progress and strategy of IC Spirit Week at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education Affiliated Student Advancement Programs conferences. Other institutions have reached out to us, wanting to follow in our mission to create a spirited environment that isn’t only about athletics and apparel. Our organization is strong, and we know it will keep growing, but we need your help. Come support your fellow students at IC Spirit Week this year.
Rachel Heiss is a senior integrated marketing communications major and the founder and president of IC Spirit Week. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.