GW does not have a sports following like the University of North Carolina, Duke or Florida State universities. Colonial fans do not enroll to paint themselves blue or camp out in the cold for tickets.
Many GW students come to D.C. to experience all the exciting social and political aspects of life in the capital. While throngs of students showed up for Fall Fest to see Cypress Hill, on most weekends students seem to prefer an exhibit at the National Gallery or party at Mister Days over school-sponsored activities. As a result, school spirit and a sense of community often fall by the wayside as students take to a thriving urban social life filled with off-campus opportunities.
Students said they are mostly content with the situation and do not feel the need to increase spirit or unity on campus.
“I don’t feel like I’m missing out on the school spirit of a big state school because that’s not what I came here for, I came for the city,” sophomore Deirdre Ehelen said.
Sophomore Tova Mannis said GW students thrive on the aspects of college life other than school spirit.
“We’re not missing out,” she said. “It’s just different.”
To some students, GW’s lack of spirit is not the result of campus-wide laziness or apathy. Students are so eager to take advantage of the city and its social life that it is easy to forget about GW sponsored events, said Taylor Sims, a sophomore from Iowa City, Iowa.
“I’m from a Big 10 city, so everything around me is focused on (the University of Iowa) and teams because there is nothing else to do,” he said. “But GW is a city school with lots of pro teams and other good college teams, so there is not as much incentive to root for GW when you can hop on the Metro and catch a Wizards game.”
Students also said student groups such as the Program Board and the Student Association should not be blamed for low spirit morale at GW. In fact, whether students attend the events or not, many said PB and SA do a good job planning activities. Fall Fest, Spring Fling, Midnight Breakfast and shows such as John Stewart last year at the Smith Center were all well-attended events.
“There is a good attempt,” Sims said. “But there is so much to do in the school and the community that it is hard to draw a good crowd.”
Mannis said GW spirit exceeded her expectations.
“For a small university, the sense of spirit and community is good,” she said. “People are proud to be in GW and proud to be in D.C.”
Many students said while the men’s basketball season provides an outlet for school spirit and an opportunity for students to show their pride for the buff and blue, other teams such as women’s basketball and volleyball – two of GW’s most successful programs – struggle for crowd support.
Sarah Yasutake, a sophomore on the crew team, said many GW teams are under-appreciated.
“It would be nice if there were more crowd support at other events,” she said.
Other students agreed.
“It’s a shame that people don’t go to sporting events other than basketball games, especially since some of the teams are so good,” Ehelen said.
Many students agreed that spirit events are here at GW, but the diverse student population and the multitude of other social options in the city make it hard for students to feel the pep and loyalty that many students of state schools feel for their teams.
“People come to GW because they want to experience D.C., not a good football team,” Yasutake said.