The Lost Pride of Carnegie
Imagine that you are a first-year again, coming out of orientation and into that pivotal first week of classes. Do you remember the change after the first week? Suddenly, your orientation friend only talks about how much work she has and how it?s impossible for anyone to understand her anguish. After just a few days, no one seems too excited to be here.
In my first year, I asked the older students countless times: ?What do you think of Carnegie Mellon?? I heard every answer in the book, and the majority of them started with ?Ehhhh,
well...? and ended with something about the quality of their degree.
I do, though, remember one girl in particular whose response shocked me. She exclaimed, ?I LOVE IT!? with a sparkle in her eye and a grin from ear to ear. Why don?t more students feel that way about our school and the college years that we dreamed of ever since junior high?
This disease has manifested itself in many aspects of the Carnegie Mellon community. One of the subgroups that is significantly affected is our varsity and club athletic teams.
The support for our teams in past years has been sparse, to say the least. The Athletics Council (AC) was founded by a small group of undergraduate students who wanted to bring more awareness and recognition to Carnegie Mellon?s athletic community. Its first project was to make a contribution toward Homecoming, an event in October that is the highlight of the year for many schools but often slips unnoticed through the fingers of our own student body. The success of their Chili Cook-off lent to the creation of two other events, including their annual arm wrestling competition, the Guns of Carnegie, that catered to students throughout the course of the year.
Their advisor in Student
Activities was amazed at the results after only one year in existence. What was it that made this first year for the organization such a success? How was it able to raise spirit where it seemed like few people had cared?
It was not apparently obvious; countless organizations have held barbeques and giveaways in much the same manner. The AC had the same flyers, cheesy eye-catching jokes, and venues as previous groups. In this case though, the object being sold or more or less given away ? was pride.
The AC offered a chance for students to step away from the tedium of Carnegie Mellon and into the lives and mentality of another community seen mostly at bigger schools ? a chance to taste the bond that is built between a group of men and women as they sweat together for nothing more than glory. This pride can attract all manner of organizations.
This brings us to the root of the issue: There is no lack of pride within Carnegie Mellon, but it is organized into departments. We all are guilty of this narrow sense of pride: academic departments, fine arts organizations, social organizations, Greek organizations, and our athletic teams. It is much easier to wall off those individuals who do not understand what drives us.
Last year a first-year asked me, ?Why are you on a sports team?? I tried to explain how I love my sport and representing Carnegie Mellon in intercollegiate competition. I found it very difficult to express the feeling of pride in words. But if you talk to someone who tried the Women?s Basketball Chili as they sang the ?Chili Song? they wrote for Homecoming, you?re talking to someone who was eating more than beef and beans. He also got a taste of their pride. At Carnegie Mellon, this experience is too often isolated between different groups.
The doors need to be opened into the compartments that exist within our University. Last year I saw a few posters on campus for a script reading of the popular 90s movie [ITAL]The Goonies[/ITAL]. As a huge fan, I got a group of friends together and headed over to Purnell. As I walked in I found out there was a $7 entrance fee, while I watched the drama students in front of me walk right in. While they did let me in for $3.25, I was torn. How many students turned away because of that innocent request for a donation?
As a person involved in creating a student organization, I understand limited budgets and the urge to raise funds
whenever possible. The challenge to us, then, is to take the door off its hinges and share our pride with as many people as possible ? for free. If that happened, we?d be amazed at the support.
I would like to encourage the Greek organizations to follow the same path. There is a pride inherent in the Greek system that is second to none, but many of the brothers and sisters of our fraternities and sororities are worried. They are worried that the Greek system at Carnegie Mellon is being phased out. Nonetheless, work must be done to end the inter-house squabbling in order to support the university on a united front and gain support from the university. How many houses have had a formal dinner event followed by the symphony at CFA? How many houses have attended a sporting event with noisemakers and cowbells ? and not just because one of the girls is on the pudding wrestling team for its rush events each year? If fraternities and sororities can come together to do this, they will become invaluable to the University, and the University will reward them with respect.
All that is needed to achieve these goals are leaders who will stand up for the greater potential of Carnegie Mellon. A support structure already exists for the creation and implementation of programs. If Student Activities sees that you are willing to give a project your supreme effort, it
will fund and support you to the end. Through our lack of involvement we leave them with no choice but to hire the same entertainment crew back again and again while they search for something original.
Be creative. Hold an arm-wrestling competition because no one believes it will work. Maybe only the football team will show up, but perhaps a random student walking through will stop and participate. Maybe this student will rack up a winning streak, and the audience will cheer ?Go Underarmour!? because no one knows his name. The Guns of Carnegie was for students like him. Ask him what he thinks of Carnegie Mellon.