North Texas Daily

Column: Mean Green spirit soaring this semester

Column: Mean Green spirit soaring this semester

Column: Mean Green spirit soaring this semester
November 21
14:44 2013

John Jacob Hough / Contributing Writer

If there was one word to describe UNT for the fall semester, that word would be change.

This semester has brought the beginning of construction on the new Union building, a move to Conference USA for athletics and perhaps most importantly, a rapid growth in school spirit.

The growth in spirit is most tangible during football games at Apogee Stadium. Record-setting crowds are turning out to support the team, which currently leads the C-USA West division with a 7-3 (5-1) record that all but promises a bowl appearance in December.

“This is America, so football plays a big role,” said Irae Yoo, sociology junior and Homecoming Queen winner. “How well the football team does definitely correlates with the level of school spirit.”

However, while the football team’s success is driving much of the surge in spirit, there wouldn’t be a framework for students to get involved and excited without the work of student organizations around campus.

Organizations such as the Student Government Association, the University Program Council, Talons and the Union Master Plan Committee have all put on or modified programs to showcase and encourage an abundance of spirit at the university.

“This year I think that all departments have been trying to stress that school spirit is really what makes your time here memorable,” said Matt Varnell, journalism senior and director of public relations for SGA. “I think that it has been stressed long enough to where we’re finally starting to make a big impact.”

For SGA, the encouragement begins as early as freshman orientation in the summer. Many orientation activities are focused on encouraging school spirit early on in a college career.

“The mentality of the freshman class can make it or break it for the university,” Varnell said. “But orientation did a great job this year.”

Many upperclassmen recognize the level of excitement and spirit in the freshman class, and it often energizes students who have been yearning for a chance to be proud of their school.

“Personally I was much more into it when I was a freshman,” logistics and business law sophomore Carly Ricci said. “They really help us be more excited about it.”

When student body president and political science junior Zach Brown ran for president, his platform included a promise to improve student spirit and involvement. The SGA and orientation teams modified programs at orientation in an effort to teach incoming freshmen the different traditions of the university.

“We had a renewed focus on the spirit and traditions of UNT,” Brown said. “Just that knowledge that UNT has such a rich history is really helping this year.”

Since orientation, the level of spirit and excitement has been maintained by different programs such as the bonfire and Homecoming parade.

“Even after orientation, if the things that they’re excited about don’t follow up, then that doesn’t really help school spirit much,” Yoo said.

Another factor influencing school pride this year is the spread of spirit through social media.

When UNT last played in a bowl game in 2002, many of the social media sites that students now use daily didn’t even exist. However, UNT is now all over different types of social media, and has trended several times on sites like Twitter.

“This is the first semester where I’ve seen social media totally geared toward school spirit,” Varnell said. “I think the social media presence gave it a jump start.”

The prospect of playing in a bowl game this holiday season is also exciting for students. After the win against Rice, the Mean Green became eligible to play in a bowl game. Which one they play in depends on how the team finishes the season in C-USA. It is the first chance at a bowl game since 2002 when UNT played in the New Orleans Bowl.

“If we get a bowl game and we win, then the spirit will definitely keep going,” Yoo said. “I just hope that the level of support and school spirit keeps going whether we win or lose.”

The real challenge will start once football season has ended and organizations will have to formulate new programs to maintain the level of spirit. Many organizations will have to focus on other sports such as basketball for activities.

“We’re trying to think of something for the spring that will have the same effect as homecoming,” Brown said. “We’re going to really try to keep the spirit going all year round.”

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