It's more than just a sweatshirt

By The Beacon | April 13, 2011 9:00pm

(The Beacon)

By Bruce Garlinghouse, Staff Commentary --

The other day, a former University of Portland athlete asked me to write story about the lack of school pride on campus. "You always see people wearing other school's colors and gear," she said in frustration.

So as I walked to class one day, I decided to put her conviction to the test and conducted an experiment. It was a simple experiment, one that even a lowly communications major such as myself could handle. I counted the number of people I saw wearing other school's sweatshirt compared to those showing their purple pride.

The results are in and I have concluded that The Bluff is suffering from an alarmingly low purple cell count and is need of immediate treatment.

Walking around campus, I saw a lot of black and orange and even more green and yellow. And while there was some purple, a lot of it was adorned with gold and had a canine on it.

Many of you are from Oregon and Washington and many of your family members are Ducks or Beavers or Huskies, so I understand the occasional sweatshirt or hat. But what I can't understand is the lack of Pilots gear being worn around campus.

Aside from the athletes who probably own only Portland gear, I counted a total of two UP sweatshirts worn, and one of the people wearing one may have been a prospective student. I am not asking anyone to be a walking billboard, but seriously, only two sweatshirts?

As you're reading this you're probably wondering why this is a big deal. It's just a sweatshirt or a hat. Why should you have to advertise to other UP students that you yourself are a student?

It is because wearing purple does not individualize you as a Pilot, it identifies you with something bigger than yourself.

People, this is our school. This is our campus. And while it may not be your favorite, purple is our color, and Wally is our mascot.

This lack of Pilot apparel is merely an extension of a bigger problem. Aside from the Gonzaga and St. Mary's games, the Chiles Center remains embarrassingly empty as many of you sit idly by waiting until Thursday for The Beacon to tell you the results. And while I appreciate your readership, get up and go watch the game! You don't have to wait for Gonzaga or St. Mary's to come to enjoy a basketball game, you can do it for every game. That's like having the option to have multiple birthdays but just settling for the one.

The other day, I went to a baseball game against Oregon State and was shocked by what I saw. Not only were there more Beavers fans present, there were more Oregon State students. They drove an hour to watch their team and you couldn't walk across the street.

But this is not just about sports. School pride is not limited to the Chiles Center or Merlo Field. It extends to the classrooms and The Commons, the Chapel and St. Mary's. School pride means having pride in everything this school seeks to provide, which is defined as a "diverse community of scholars dedicated to excellence and innovation."

It means having pride in your professors. The people who have dedicated their lives to furthering the mission of the school — and to make every cent you or your parents spend count. They come to school every day just like you, except they don't get to skip class.

Remember, you CHOSE to come here. So be proud of it. Have some pride and go buy a damn sweatshirt.

(Kayla Wong -- The Beacon)