CSUN is not a college well known for school spirit. Those who exude it are in a minority. Turn out at sporting events is notoriously low, club week booths constantly seem empty, and the majority of students commute to campus. We’ve even lost our Americana symbol, our college football team, a traditional source of school pride. I’ve heard quite a few students muttering, “I hate this school,” although I bet most of this can be attributed to administrative bureaucracy.
Despite a collective apathy that seems to have a grip on most CSUN students, it’s still ours. We all complain, as most students do, about our class load, our never-ending parking problem, and how we didn’t get the classes we needed for the third semester in a row. But do you stand for students from other universities (UCLA and USC come to mind) making fun of CSUN? I don’t, and neither should you.
It’s a funny kind of warped sense of pride that most students feel about CSUN. It reminds me of growing up in Bakersfield. It’s sometimes called the “armpit of California,” so you can imagine what a lovely place it is. You’ve probably driven through, and all you’ve seen is the highway. Anyone who grows up in Bakersfield will be the first one to put it down, but is also the first to leap to its defense to an out-of-towner. You can’t make fun of a place until you really know it, until you’ve suffered through the worst it has and enjoyed the best it has to offer.
Likewise, CSUN may not have a nationally recognizable name like UCLA or USC. But that doesn’t make it any worse. CSUN has one of the top journalism programs in California. It’s not uncommon for people who went to another school for their undergraduate to choose CSUN for its journalism graduate program. CSUN also has one of the largest university deaf communities in the U.S. It doesn’t seem like that’s very widely known outside the CSUN community. And that’s just a few of the excellent programs at CSUN.
But maybe you don’t care about those accolades. More students than not are uninvolved with any school club or community. A lot of students commute here for classes and leave as soon as possible. The number of UCSB and UCLA sweatshirts seems to outnumber the CSUN sweatshirts worn around campus, although that has been decreasing in recent semesters.
In high school, every school had its super involved students who planned the dances, were part of student government, and were basically involved in a million clubs. Then there were students who went to school and then went directly home. It just seems that most of the latter students came to CSUN.
I’m not saying it wouldn’t be nice if our school did have more spirit, but you can’t force people to do something they don’t want to do. Clearly, school spirit isn’t very high on most of the student body’s agenda. I bet, though, every student has found at least one kernel of joy at CSUN. And with that little kernel of happiness is a tiny bit of pride. Maybe it’s because we’re on a sports team, part of the student government, write for a school publication, or maybe even just the fact that we chose this campus.
I personally take pride in being a part of our journalism program and contributing to the Sundial. Even if some students don’t express it, a lot of us carry a quiet school spirit around with us.
A quiet pride where, in spite of what we might say otherwise, we rise to the defense of school is better than no pride at all. Maybe someday more students will attend sporting events and our clubs will blossom. And maybe one day the criticism of our lack of school spirit and the fight over the right way to raise it will end. Until then, not everyone has to display their pride on their sleeves if they carry it in their hearts.