Is it a travesty that I hardly know the words to UNC Charlotte’s alma mater, despite being a student here for nearly three years?
The answer to this question may draw mixed reactions from fellow Niners who can empathize with my situation to hardcore stans who may want to banish me from the campus grounds into the Forbidden Forest to live amongst ravenous deer.
Don’t get me wrong, I love UNC Charlotte. I’ve represented Niner Nation during its darkest moments. Whether it was the various and humbling blowouts at The Rich, Hunger-Games-esque class registration periods and Belk Tower’s imminent removal, I’ve always been proud to be a Niner and there is no finer school in the state of North Carolina. However, if you ask me if there is a better school in the country, I would unequivocally and proudly state my lifelong allegiance to a school I don’t attend, the University of Florida.
During any given week, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find someone representing Duke, UNC, ECU, or NC State, just by simply wearing a simple piece of clothing. Because of this, sometimes it’s hard to find the same spirit amongst Charlotte students, and understandably some people are upset at this phenomenon because they perceive this action as disloyal and treasonous.
The usual line of thinking consists of, ‘How can someone wear that when they go to Charlotte?’
And it’s completely understandable that people would react in such a way, because from this view they just want people to be proud of their school. But if we’re parsing ideas here, what makes one proud of their institution. Is it academics, athletics, prestige, setting or some combination of the above?
In my case, it’s a combination of all of these, although I identify with the University of Florida because of their wonderful athletics program (they just happen to be great academically). However, one can assume this is the same for most people whose first exposure to a college is via a television screen, watching whomever their family roots for.
For some that team may be UNC, for others it may be Duke. No matter the case, when you factor in the influences of family, who play a tremendous role in providing individuals with the basis of their social identities (e.g. religion, social class, race and ethnic background), you may possibly get that one bold individual who thinks it’s a fantastic idea to wear Davidson apparel on the week of a big rivalry game.
As much as individuals love to believe alliances and past experiences should fall by the wayside once you attend a college, that’s obviously not the reality. On college campuses it is not uncommon to see students wearing apparel from colleges they applied to, went to or rooted for as a child. This shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a rejection of the college a person currently attends, but as a complicated and maybe not so complicated phenomena that exists in our society.
With over 27,000 students from various states and countries, is it so radical to suggest that one can be supportive of an institution they attend, in addition to another school that they’ve grown up watching every Saturday?
School pride is vital and if you’ve seen Charlotte’s crowds at basketball and football games, it’s evident that enthusiasm is something we struggle with. However, it’s also important to recognize the reasons why school pride is variable, which may include high and unrealistic expectations for athletic teams, lack of marketing and the stigma of being a “commuter school.”
Instead of scapegoating students who wear non-UNC Charlotte apparel, we should embrace diversity and represent the various colleges we identify with, in addition to rooting for Charlotte, without making it seem like an all-or-nothing preposition.