Anxious college freshman leaving home for the first time can generally find solace and comfort in three guarantees. There will be beer. There will be weight gain. And there will be football.
That is, unless you’re a freshman at Manhattan College.
With our high school buddies at large universities packing campus stadiums weekend after weekend to partake in the experience of college football, it’s easy for students at Manhattan College to feel like we might be missing out on the rowdy, boozy, all-American fun.
Why do I say that? Because that is exactly how I felt just last weekend when I attended my first college football game at a university roughly twice our size. What struck me the most about the experience was the tangible level of school spirit that was electric and totally infectious. For those few hours, the student body was one.
And I was jealous.
Then I thought about it a little more. Manhattan College doesn’t have a football team, or campus-wide tailgates, or a world-class stadium, or a mascot that is regularly featured on ESPN, but it would be wrong to say that there isn’t a pride or unity associated with being a Jasper.
By the nature of our location and the size of our school, it would be impossible to replicate the college experiences of our peers at state universities. Our college experience is entirely unique, but that doesn’t make it any less fun, united, spirited or interesting as anyone else’s.
Want unity? Watch an engineering class study together before a final exam.
Want fun? Stand outside of Fenwick’s on a Saturday night and try convincing yourself the people inside aren’t having a blast.
Want spirit? Ask anyone about last year’s amazing journey to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Want interesting? Take the 1 train and get off anywhere.
Manhattan College is a school that’s best qualities are found in its intimate moments, the ones that don’t make it onto ESPN or into an admissions brochure.
School spirit here can’t be found on a football field, but it’s evident in how professors care about their students and vice versa, how people always hold doors open for each other, how fiercely we support our teams’ small successes, how easy it is to make a new friend over a broken library printer or jammed RLC stapler, how passionate our alumni are about being Jaspers.
We don’t need football to have school spirit, because we already do. We just have to dig a little deeper to really see it glimmer.