A substantial investment in new methods of school spirit would enhance the University’s profile for students and recruits.
Tonight’s men’s basketball game at Wake Forest is the beginning of an exciting season for the University. The players and the program in general are receiving substantial coverage in the national press, and are favored to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999. Accompanying GW’s national emergence is widespread student enthusiasm surrounding the team. This increased interest in men’s basketball at GW has the opportunity to advance the administration’s well-articulated goal of fostering a distinct campus feel through school spirit and collective student experiences.
While certainly offering its own advantages, GW’s location in downtown Washington, D.C. has diminished its ability to attract students searching for a traditional college campus experience. Recently, the University suffered from the lack of a marquee sports program, and the school spirit accompanying such a reality. GW must harness the nascent student body enthusiasm for the men’s basketball team and encourage its growth through providing students with more experiences before, during and after the games themselves.
Creating an exciting atmosphere before each game will create a certain buzz on campus with which students can identify. One area in which the University could play a direct role is to sponsor more pre-game barbecues on Kogan Plaza. Mirroring – to a certain extent – tailgating at larger colleges and universities, such events would serve as a pre-game rallying point for students and an excellent conduit for school spirit.
While national networks are set to televise at least five games, and local television several others, students do not have the ability to come together in substantial numbers to watch away games. The University should explore the option of showing such games at the Smith Center. Utilizing the new Jumbotron for such a purpose would gather a large number of students to watch the game together, and in turn help to foster more school spirit.
At home games, the University should constantly look for additional ways to involve students and student groups in the experience. Booking student groups and other student acts to perform at halftime – coupled with innovative giveaways and other initiatives – would give students more ownership over their team and overall experience. This, no doubt, would help draw more people to games and increase the buzz around campus on game days potentially for those not traditionally interested in the game itself.
While these steps would represent good progress, the University should be lauded for enabling a student-run fan section to be created. Facilitating deals for Colonial Army members on away game ticket prices, in-game concession stand purchases and other amenities results in the creation of a pro-active and enthusiastic fan section during games. In the future, the University should look for ways to provide more services for students willing to make an investment in their team.
Galvanizing the campus around the men’s basketball team could represent a windfall for the University. A good basketball team and a devoted fan base will be attractive to prospective students looking for an academically challenging campus with high-level sports. Coupling success on the court with a positive, energetic fan base will make GW an attractive destination for high-level recruits capable of sustaining the program’s current momentum. By investing in more school spirit programs like those aforementioned, GW would make a valuable investment in its future.