Friday, October 10, 2014

Whose homecoming is it anyway?

When I worked at the Sun Dome on the campus of the University of South Florida, one of our biggest challenges was trying to engage the students in doing some big things and helping them try to establish some kind of unique culture. USF was established in 1956 and remains saddled with a reputation of a charmless commuter school, lacking in many of the traditions found on most college campuses. The University hasn't done a lot to help itself shed this not-totally-undeserved regard. "Midnight Madness", a celebration of the opening of basketball season and a staple at most universities was never observed consistently. Sometimes, they'd do it, sometimes they would try to turn it into something else, sometimes they wouldn't have anything at all. I don't know if there's a word that means the opposite of tradition, but that's what that is.
Worse, when it came to booking an act for the annual homecoming show, in spite of grand desires, they'd be extremely timid with their budget, apparently not understanding what a budget is for. Every year, there'd be talk of booking Chris Rock and every year we'd end up with Randy Watson.
"Welcome students, alumni and honored guests!"
It was frustrating but ultimately you can't blame the students; they're kids, after all. Sure, old enough to legally vote, drink and serve in the military, but still kids taking a final childhood victory lap. There should have been an adult in a position of authority to explain the importance of consistency in trying to establish tradition. Someone who could tell them that when you're given a discretionary budget to spend on something, that it's not a savings account. There should have been someone there to help them do things the right way.

I left there in 2004 and sad to say, it looks like things haven't changed much. 

This is a promotional t-shirt produced and distributed by a student organization called the Campus Traditions Board to promote this year's homecoming activities:

Nice, huh? One problem, though. This is what USF's football team looks like...

And this is what USF's homecoming opponent, the East Carolina University football team, looks like...
'Purchased with $5,600 from student Activity and Service (A&S) fees, 1,200 shirts on campus share the same purple color with the East Carolina Pirates — the Bulls’ Homecoming opponent.
“We really want to be in green,” Center for Student Involvement Director Monica Miranda said. “The opposing team’s color is purple, so we don’t want to be in purple.”
The shirt’s primary color is grape with white letters advertising the list of the week’s events on the back and the Homecoming Superbull XVIII logo on the front.
About 200 of the purple shirts were passed out to promote Homecoming week. By Friday, Miranda said someone brought up the oversight to the Campus Traditions Board.
“It’s a student committee,” she said. “They didn’t realize purple was the color of the opposing school.” ' - Wesley Higgins, The Oracle (USF student newspaper)
I could say something snarky and sad like, "Oh USF, please never change" but it appears there's no threat of that happening. On the bright side, maybe screwing up at establishing tradition IS a tradition.

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