Wednesday, October 7, 2009

To Wack or not to Wack? School spirit

Spirit Week is the prelude to the "big" homecoming game. Each day students and professors are to wear clothes along that day's theme: colors, PJs, Formal, "Wacky". I decided to play along with "Wacky Day", and wore a God-awful collection of wild clothes. I didn't think of the ramifications of such beyond the university community until I dropped Boy off to day care, and was looked at strangely by the people who watch my child during the day.

When I arrived to work, several colleagues had also dressed up. We joked about how each of us, leaving the house, had a strong fear that they had gotten the day wrong and would be wearing these clothes for no good reason. Though my get-up was entirely obnoxious, several other professors along the corridor had me beat. It was hilarious.

Two things I find interesting here. One is my willingness to do such a thing. Here's the perfect opportunity to not go along with the silliness, to be professional and leave that crap to the undergraduates. I also have a relatively strong resistance to blindly doing what I'm told. So I was surprised to find myself draped in such, um, finery. Moreover, it was interesting to see which of the faculty dressed up and those that did not. I will subdivide them into two categories: those that participate in spirit week, let's call them "Enthusiastic Profs" - EPs for short - and those that care nothing for it, we shall call these people "bah humbuggers" (BHs). The ratio of EPs to BHs was approximately 1:3. Which is surprisingly high. I could have predicted several of my colleagues would fit into the EP category, and a few I would have predicted as BHs. But many of the ones that did dress up were a surprise to me. New Prof found the middle of the road. Smart move. Last year, Young Temporary Prof wore something VERY VERY slinky, which probably wasn't a smart move.

The second thing I find interesting? The ratio of Wackily dressed profs to like-dressed students was 1:100. Clearly there are more EPs than ESs.

I wonder if there is a difference in these two ratios among institution type. In grad school (big urban med school), I had NOTHING to do with the undergrad division, despite them having a decent D1 football team. I certainly don't recall ANYONE taking part in school spirit-type stuff. Yes people would go to games, but it didn't intrude into work time. The local professional football team, well that's completely different(and highly pathological, but I digress).

Do professors at R1 institutions invest in school spirit? Much?

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