Oct 122009
Authors: Seth Anthony

There are few things like homecoming weekend to remind you that CSU is a community that takes tremendous pride in itself —- from Friday’s Homecoming Parade to Saturday’s football game, shouts of “I’m proud to be a CSU Ram!” were everywhere.

Although we should be wary of pride without justification, which is simply vanity, we have a lot to be proud about: Our world-class researchers and academic faculty, our students whose dedication to making the world a better place is unmatched, our staff who serve with dedication and skill and our athletic teams who boost our prominence on the national stage.

CSU is the lifeblood of Fort Collins and the academic center and economic engine of Northern Colorado. Oh, and how about that marching band? Yet, for all the legitimate reasons we have for pride, it seems the CSU community hasn’t seemed to figure out how to be proud of ourselves without putting other people down.

If we’re proud of our football team, as I thought we were after their triumphant win over the CU-Boulder last month, why would anyone feel the need to throw snowballs at the opposing team’s football players, as happened at the homecoming football game against Utah? The Collegian editorial board yesterday rightly decried this show of poor sportsmanship, but I can’t help but feel that they also contributed to the problem when they published the lyrics to and encouraged students to sing “Fum’s Song” in Friday’s paper.

The first rule of good sportsmanship we were all taught in elementary school is to respect others — not to put them down. So is it really necessary for our own self-esteem that we call students at other schools “sissies” and “drunkards,” as Fum’s Song does? Frankly, I’m embarrassed when I see that we have a building on this campus named for someone whose most lasting legacy to this institution was a string of insults. If we build a culture where insulting others is encouraged, should we be at all surprised when people move to the next step of assaulting one’s opponents with snowballs?

And we haven’t stopped there. CSU has apparently whipped many students up into such an emotional frenzy that Collegian columnist Robyn Scherer on Friday described her desire to “Hit … fellow students over the head” when she sees them wearing anything with another college’s name. Is the sort of attitude where we feel like hurting and screaming at fellow students conduct becoming a CSU Ram?

Robyn rightfully described the value of loyalty in her column, but she didn’t appear to consider this: When a student wears a shirt from another institution, they may be supporting their hometown or a family member at another school — those are valuable forms of loyalty. They may, like me, be a graduate student expressing their pride in their undergraduate institution, and they’re likely to be wearing their CSU shirt the next day.

Just because we’re at CSU now doesn’t mean we have to have any less pride in or loyalty to other schools we’ve attended. The misplaced emotion that provokes one to anger when someone demonstrates pride in something else isn’t loyalty at all — it’s blind passion.

This may be blasphemy on the CSU campus, but I hold no ill will toward CU or toward Wyoming or Utah. Their students are just as proud of their own schools for their own reasons, and we shouldn’t have a problem with that either. There are plenty of ways of expressing school pride — and even saying “Bring it on!” to our athletic opponents without putting them down.

So I’m proud to cheer on CSU in football, tennis, cross-country and volleyball. But I’ll do so without insulting or wishing to harm the opposing team or our fellow students. And that’s what allows me to hold my head high and say: “I’m proud to be a CSU Ram.”

Seth Anthony is a chemistry graduate student. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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