A.S. focus on school pride a good move

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As much as I may want the leaders of Associated Students to march up to University Hall with pitchforks and torches demanding answers to the administrative foul-ups that have occurred at CSUN since I got here in 2002, they are busy doing something else worthwhile.

In what has seemingly become one of the major talking points for the Chad Charton A.S. administration, school spirit, pride and their affect on the student experience have become a major priority. Following discussions with A.S., the university pledged $25,000 to address this important issue. The organization’s University Affairs Committee is now looking into ways to develop higher levels of school spirit and pride, and an ad-hoc committee will later be formed to look seriously at plan development and implementation.

Some would say the organization should be looking into more pressing issues, such as advocacy issues relating to academic advising, student communication, Financial Aid foul-ups, large-scale disenrollments, the A.S. Finance Committee being repeatedly marginalized during Senate meetings, or the “fiscally responsible” move toward credit card processing fees. I would tend to agree. But I’ll give them more time to look into those.

This school spirit and pride initiative is not reactionary; it’s progressive. And if it works, it just might help solve some of the other things I’ve been so worried about.

At the center of this plan, if it is to work, must be two central themes: CSUN’s working class background and Matador athletics. If both are tapped into, it’ll be worth it.

To start with the latter, I believe the involvement of sports has been discussed in A.S.

During last week’s Senate meeting, a ridiculous idea about bringing back and utilizing the CSUN football team for this purpose was introduced by a senator during a committee report. Other than that, however, everything else should be and is on the table.

If this plan is to be implemented in the coming months, it could coincide with plans for Homecoming, the rise of the men’s and women’s basketball team, and perhaps come at the end of a men’s and women’s soccer NCAA tournament run.

Matador logos could run rampant across campus. Enormous banners could be hung from the side of that new skyscraper-sized parking structure. We could have a guy dressed up in the Matador mascot costume sit in crazy parts of campus, like in the stacks of the Oviatt Library or on the roof of Sierra Tower, and people could play “Spot the Midday Mascot” for fun. In other words, free t-shirts galore.

But I’d take it to the next level and involve the student athletes themselves. Charton and his vice president Safa Sajadi defeated the “student athletes” ticket, led by Zack Bates and Ana Matijasevic, during last spring’s A.S. elections. If they’re still around, bring them and their supporters back in new positions and give them some responsibility.

I want the tallest man in the world, CSUN men’s basketball center Thomas Shewmake, chasing around the Matador mascot in the middle of Sierra Quad. I want our track and field stars in front of the bookstore doing hurdles and high jumps just to remind other students that they exist and that, hey, they can jump high, too.

At this point, the community – yes, the people that leave notes on our cars saying not to park in their precious neighborhood – can be brought in. Matador sports are the only game in town, so to speak. If A.S. and the marketing crew in the Athletics Department can hook up and try to fill the Matadome this winter, I’d call that enormous progress.

The other thing I mentioned, tapping into this campus’ pride in its own working-class, “I come to school after eight hours of work” demeanor, is also essential to making sure this $25,000 and our leaders’ time is well-spent. How can we do that?

I don’t know. It’s going to be harder than giving out coffee cups that students can bring to their nine-to-five office jobs. Maybe it’ll involve cleverly written bumper stickers with a sense of humor, or the involvement of some of the Valley’s big businesses, where a lot of students work, such as insurance companies and the mall.

But I’m not worried. They have committees to figure out the fine print.

Getting people connected to their school and to the development of student-to-student bonds could keep this university together.

Let’s just make sure it’s worth our while. If the $25,000 that A.S. secured from the university is squandered because of goofy plans involving the football team or Face-paint Fridays, then I’ll shed a tear just for a second before I begin pointing my finger again.

In the meantime, good luck. They’ll need it.

Ryan Denham can be reached at ryan.denham@csun.edu.