Answering the Question of School Spirit
As a tour guide for the University of Mary Washington, it is my job to ensure that every prospective student leaves thinking that UMW is the Disneyland of college experiences.
We show off the fitness center (sounds fancier than gym), the Underground, the newly renovated Monroe Hall, the sprawling cornucopia of food in Seacobeck and of course the crown jewel, the Anderson Center.
On my tours, I field questions about student life, meal plans, dorm rooms and all other aspects of college. There are very few questions I haven’t heard or don’t have a quick answer to that is pointed and professional. Or so I thought.
This past Monday, I touring a group of 18, and being 55 minutes into it I had already been asked some real zingers like, “How safe is the campus here?”
Guide answer: “We have 142 blue light stations on a 167 acre campus and our very own police force. I have never heard of anyone needing to press a blue light. They have to test the system once a year to make sure its still working.”
Real Answer: “If I ever did get attacked I would limp myself off campus before reporting it to avoid dealing with the campus police. Also, the parking deck is way sketchy at night. Beware of the Fredneck creepers, they exist. Hide yo kids, hide yo macbook.”
“How diverse is this campus?”
Guide answer: “About 16 percent of our population claim minority status. As a community, we place a strong emphasis on multicultural education, culminating in the Multicultural Fair, one of the most well-attended events of the academic year.”
Real Answer: “We put on a good show, but this school is about as waspy as they come.”
I thought I had this tour in the bag, until a petite mother asked, “What is the school spirit like here? I haven’t been able to discern what the mascot is or what the colors are.”
I was stumped. How could I explain to this lovely woman that Bingo Night has a higher attendance rate than almost all sporting events? And how did she miss the giant eagle with the five-foot wing span on the floor of the Anderson Center?
When it comes to school spirit, we are apathetic at best. Mildly interested would be pushing it. Spirited is a word I would use to describe the squirrel population, but unless its homecoming, it’s not an adjective anyone would associate with the student population. So what did I say? I spun. I spun like a five-year-old on a swivel chair.
I said, “Some schools are identified by their sports teams and school colors. Our identifier is a community that gives back on a national and international level. Students Helping Honduras was founded here, and every year for the past four years we have highest number of students entering the Peace Corps after graduation in the country.”
Was this answer pertinent to her question? No, not really. But did it sound good? Yes it did. My real answer? If you want to hear students chanting “go go go, fight fight fight” on a weekly basis, you need to go go go and find find find another school.