Author: Damian Mendieta
Occidental has a significant pool of superb athletes despite a relatively small population of 2,100 students. Yet, school spirit and support for athletics is extremely underwhelming. It’s rare to see a large mass of students garbed in black and orange yelling their heads off. That being said, it shouldn’t come as a surprise whenever Occidental gets creamed in the SCIAC.
Apart from a few campus-wide events in the nine months between Convocation and Commencement, students do not interact with each other in recreational activities outside of the classroom or the lecture hall. The college environment needs to include lighter campus-wide activities that include every student, so that graduates leave Occidental with more memories than just the endless papers and exams they passed along the way.
Fun is the key word in getting students out to home games. Occidental dance and cheer squads do their best to keep the crowd entertained, but lackluster attitudes from the bleachers are still a disappointment. For sports such as baseball, swimming and diving and tennis there isn’t much other than an announcer and perhaps a bit of music. Why aren’t there t-shirt giveaways or something to bring the crowds out to support our athletes?
Sure, any incentive will cost the college money, but the trade–off is priceless. Years later, alumni and student-athletes will probably be more likely to donate their nickels and dimes when they remember the delightful moments they shared with their friends on the field, even if they don’t remember who was playing who that day. In a time when student-loans and a volatile economy press graduates to hold on tighter to their earnings, the college needs to develop new strategies to prevent alumni donations from decreasing.
The experience of watching a game is far more important than keeping up with every shot, every fumble, every ace or every strikeout. A larger crowd, one that wants to be there watching the Tigers duke it out against SCIAC opponents, is better than a skeletal amount of spectators whose cheers and claps have less thunder.
As the Tigers continue to get thrashed away by CMS, Pomona-Pitzer and other schools with superior fan-bases, it is crucial for the college to look into ways of getting students out to games as often as possible. While new sports facilities can help boost school spirit, Occidental Tiger identity still does not resonate and exist in the majority of our 2,100 students. The institutional memory of students does not include much more than our academics and differences in experiences among students far outnumber the similarities.
If in ten years Occidental graduates from 2013 are to run into each other, they probably won’t mention how rowdy and rabble-rousing home games were. In fact, unless they knew each other, they probably won’t have much to talk about from Occidental. The administration desperately needs to create institutional structures that support and nurture a Tiger collective whole, if the college cares about what students leave Occidental with besides their degree.
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