The Emerging Identity of UMBC

The Emerging Identity of UMBC

UMBC stands out; let’s keep it that way

By Allison Opitz

Contributing Writer

opitz1@umbc.edu

Homecoming week always makes students wonder where the spirit is, and what brings everyone together. But we don’t need traditions to have pride.

There will be no homecoming football game or tailgating. There are a slew of homecoming events this week, but none of them will closely resemble the stereotypical happenings of larger, older universities. UMBC, having been around for less than 50 years with a focus on research and high academic performance, can trace most of its traditions to the past ten years.

The alma mater was created in 2006, UMBC’s 40th anniversary, by the former pep band director, Jari Villanueva. The former athletics director, Dr. Brown, began the tradition of singing the alma mater after every athletic event, from swimming to soccer.

There are a few other traditions around here. Many students assume that rubbing the True Grit statue’s nose is widely accepted, but not many actually do it. Kaitlyn Winchester, an undecided sophomore, says that “Quadmania is the closest thing we have to a tradition,” because it happens every year and most students know about it. “We’re not a traditionally social campus. We’re a little weirder,”  said Winchester

Kelly Maszkiewicz, an undecided junior and recent transfer, says that she hasn’t heard of any special traditions. “At orientation, I learned the fight song, and that’s all I know.” She also thinks that “more school pride comes from sports” than other events.

The pep band is the hub of school spirit and is one of “the most spirited groups on campus,” according to its director, Matt Basch. Having been here since 2004 as an undergraduate, graduate and now band director, he noticed that the most amount of school spirit was when the men’s basketball team was doing well in 2008. “It was so loud in the RAC that you couldn’t hear yourself think,” he says.

Most students, both current and past, believe that school spirit comes from sporting events where people can show pride in the school. We focus almost exclusively on academics as an honors university, but Winchester thinks that “we can’t live on our academic reputation alone.” She believes that both the students and administration are jointly responsible for creating school traditions, which are born from spirit and pride.

Perhaps our traditions are simply that we don’t have any. UMBC works hard to stand out from other universities, with high academic standards, both for students and faculty, as well as a huge number of international students. It’s hard to find a student who isn’t proud of the high-quality education they receive here, yet most are “reluctant to show spirit,” according to Winchester.

Embrace the unique culture. Instead of football games, keep having Humans vs. Zombies invitationals; instead of parties, keep having small groups play video games together. That’s just the nature of UMBC, and that’s okay. Instead of trying to force something that isn’t there, be proud to wear black and gold — let that be a tradition.