Tradition is an important element of every organization, including colleges and universities. With tradition comes pride in the organization, a sense of history, and respect for those that came ahead of you.
St. John’s is a school full of tradition, even if it’s not of the easily recognizable variety. Tradition does not require floats and parades, nor does it require a football game and tailgate party. Tradition is about passing something down from one generation to the next, not about parties and pigskin.
But not everyone sees it that way. To many, tradition must have a physical manifestation to matter.
“I don’t think we’re steeped in tradition,” said Damien Duchamp, director of Campus Activities. “I think that we have an aura or a general expectation; everybody assumes that we have tradition but we don’t have a bunch of chants. We don’t have a bunch of cheers. People have a bunch of connections through certain elements of the University …a year and a half ago when [I] first came on campus, you saw more shirts for other schools than you saw for St. John’s. That’s not a campus that’s steeped in tradition.”
The recent reinstatement of homecoming is trying to fix that. The weeklong event, centered on the men’s and women’s soccer teams, is back after a seven-year absence from campus.
Prior to the loss of the football team (which was cut following the 2002 season), the University chose to cut the homecoming budget in order to invest in other projects.
And while football is an important element of the homecoming celebrations at most other universities, it is not essential. Spirit and pride are independent of any one sport, or of any one event. Football and tradition need not be mutually exclusive. At St. John’s, they can’t be, for one does not exist.
Tradition at St. John’s is about 50 years of Greek Life on campus. It’s about 82 years of a college newspaper dedicated to retaining its independence. It’s about having one of the winningest coaches in college basketball history. And it’s about a law school that has taught some of the more prominent legal minds of recent generations.
There need not be a yearly celebration in order to say a university is steeped in tradition. The important elements of tradition, the pride and spirit that come along with it, still exist. Any student in Greek Life can tell you that, for them, the connection they feel to their university has nothing to do with a football game. And for the members of The Torch, tradition has little to do with cheers and chants.
While homecoming is a wonderful way of trying to bring back the outward manifestation of tradition, it is not necessary. With or without the floats, games, parties and barbecues, St. John’s is still overflowing with tradition. Students should have pride in the strength of the University and the rich history it offers, whether or not they have a football game to go to and a parade to watch.