Students reflect on Davis’ unconventional school spirit
UC Davis is ranked among the top public universities in the nation, a fact that seems to instill a sense of pride within the students that attend the university. However, when roaming around the campus it is not difficult to spot a fellow student representing another school.
Stanford, Cal and USC are among the top choices of schools many students on campus choose to represent in their apparel. But where’s the logic in Aggies representing a school they don’t attend? Is this an issue rooted in the level of school spirit throughout Davis, or yet another quirk Davis has to offer?
School spirit is a term that generally induces a positive sense of identity within members of the same educational institution. However, the forms in which school spirit manifests differ from person to person. Some regard school spirit as showing pride for their school by wearing school colors and attending sporting events. Others believe that school spirit is something they possess by simply getting involved with campus events or school clubs. Davis is known to have one of the largest university spirit groups in the nation, known as the Aggie Pack. But how much school spirit does the Aggie Pack represent?
“To me, school spirit means taking pride in the values and accomplishments of your school” said Nora Williams, a fourth-year international relations major at UC Davis. “Davis has some really talented sports teams but also our university produces a lot of groundbreaking research […] it definitely gives you a sense of pride everytime you hear something cool that an Aggie alum is doing post-grad.”
According to Williams, school spirit is not something that solely pertains to athletics, but rather anything that pertains to the university itself. For the past four years Williams has felt a great sense of pride in attending a prestigious and nationally-ranked university. From Decision Day up until her last quarter at Davis, Williams expressed how grateful she felt to be a Davis student.
“The people at Davis are so unique,” Williams said. “I am proud to be a part of a community where there is such a strong drive for service and justice […] I constantly see things about how Davis is number one for this or top 10 worldwide for that and it definitely makes me want to brag everytime I go home.”
By attending such an academically rigorous school, getting out to sports games can be difficult, especially with the amount of stress students deal with from work to school to extracurricular activities. The city of Davis and the university itself offer a variety of ways for students to relieve stress and have a good time, but attending sporting events does not seem to be a popular choice among students.
“To be honest, the first and only sporting event that I attended this quarter was [because I] tabled for Camp Kesem,” Williams said. “I really wish I had more time to watch sports games […] those athletes don’t get anywhere near the hype they deserve.”
Jon Amadi, a first-year undeclared student and football player at UC Davis, expresses a different opinion on the level of school spirit he has noticed around campus. Though Amadi feels a great sense of pride for Davis in terms of academics, he believes that the support for athletics at Davis is not nearly as prominent.
“A lot of my friends go to other schools that are really involved and have a ton of school spirit and students attend games more frequently,” Amadi said. “Davis is definitely known to be more of a research and academic school rather than a school focused on athletics [and] it’s not like we have a bad athletic history, people just don’t seem to care about the athletics.”
Amadi described the lack of attendance from the student body at football games as well as other sporting events he has attended, such as gymnastics, lacrosse, soccer and basketball.
“The only time we had a good amount of people attend […] was the very first game we played and the game against Cal Poly,” Amadi said.”I thought us winning the first game would have a bigger ripple effect among the student body and cause people to come to games more often.”
The impact that the audience, or in this case student body, has on the performance of sports players as well as people involved in the arts is immense. Amadi explained how having people cheering for you in the stands is a totally different experience than just having alumni and family watching. In a way, the active participation from the student body creates a greater sense of community within the university.
“Even getting 50 people to come to every game makes a huge difference,” Amadi said. “[Getting people involved] is not something that is going to happen overnight, but it is a step towards strengthening our school spirit. It’s super cool when there’s a bunch of students out there supporting you […] because to an extent it feels like they have your back.”
So what is it that hinders students from attending school sporting events or school events in general?
“Kids are more focused on school,” Amadi said. “When you come to college it’s kind of like a means to an end, meaning you are here so you can get a better job or go to graduate school, and I think a lot of people here have that same tunnel vision [and] they miss everything else going on around them.”
For most people, attending sporting events is primarily a social event rather than a way for people to show school pride. Amadi shared his experiences going to various athletic events and how it changed his experience at Davis.
“It’s actually really fun going to games,” Amadi said. “Watching people do what you can’t do [in reference to gymnastics] gives you a better appreciation for the people within the Davis community.”
There are several universities much like Davis that are more research and academically-oriented compared to sports, yet those same schools seem to have a significantly different turnout at sporting events. Thomas Halligan, a first-year materials science engineering major, explained why he feels like Davis has less school spirit in terms of sports compared to other universities located in California.
“Sports programs at schools like Berkeley or USC are a lot bigger,” Halligan said. “There is a lot more money that goes into advertising and [as a result] there are bigger events surrounding their athletics programs.”
With the argument of money aside, there still seems to be a disconnection rooted within the student body in terms of school pride. Halligan further explains what he believes this disconnection is.
“There isn’t cohesion,” Halligan said. “There is the research aspect which is very much in its own world and then there is the athletics aspect which is also very much in its own world [and] each part is kind of broken off into its own thing and there isn’t much of a connection.”
To bridge this sense of disconnect, Halligan proposes various solutions that could potentially increase student involvement at games as well as school events. Branding and faculty involvement were among the two plausible solutions to address the problem of the lack of cohesion.
“If the university markets school events better they have the power to hype up these events and brand themselves more effectively,” Halligan said. “I don’t think Davis does enough in terms of social media […] having a bigger presence on these [media platforms] might increase school spirit and involvement on campus.”
Halligan detailed the amount of influence professors have on the students. By bringing the students and faculty together to support the school, the community becomes more tight-knit.
“If a professor you look up to, like Enderle, attends a game you are more likely to show up,” Halligan said. “Whether your reason for attending is to get on the good side of the professor [or] recognizing your professor as a member of the community.”
The city of Davis as well as the university has many appealing attributes. From a vibrant city to a nationally-ranked public university, students have a lot to be proud of.
According to Halligan, Davis has the potential to pave the way for future Aggies to be more active members of the Aggie Pack.
“Davis is a really unique school and there are a lot of aspects that make it a great university if it were broadcasted on a bigger scale,” Halligan said.
Written by: Sneha Ramachandran — firstname.lastname@example.org