Flames of the Torch

It’s probably fair to say that St. John’s is a basketball school. A single visit to the newly revamped Carnesecca Arena lobby is evidence of that. The St. John’s basketball program has a proud history that goes back more than 100 years.

That said, it’s sad that attendance at games in the past few years has sunk so low.

Maybe it’s a simple matter of the team’s failure to meet expectations. Or maybe there’s more to the story.

In essence, the backbone of student support for sports teams, campus events, and programs is school spirit. Without this somewhat intangible substance, the student body would have no force to rally behind. For whatever reason, St. John’s seems to be suffering from a recession in spirit.

It’s hard to see a school with such a rich history suffering from a lack of school spirit.

Reasons for this are hard to pin down, as no single cause could or should receive all of the blame. Student indifference has become a serious issue in this nation.

This has been illustrated many times in the past few years, particularly by disinterest in national politics in the most recent presidential election. In the last few elections less than 50 percent of voters between the ages of 18-24 have cast a ballot.

While a study conducted by the Forum for Youth Investment has shown that the youth of this generation wish to be the ones shaping, rather than witnessing history, this seems hard to believe when students won’t even be bothered to get involved in the life of their university.

Participating in events on campus is an outlet for students to express pride in their schools.

However, problems as complex as declining student involvement are likely to have multiple sources. Participation is a two-way street. While students need to find the motivation to attend sporting events and other programs, the University needs to do a better job of planning and promoting them.

A perfect example took place on Feb. 5.

At 1:32 a.m. the morning of a men’s basketball away game that would take place at Seton Hall, an e-mail was sent to the St. John’s Central account of every SJU student. It advertised the game, promising free admission to the first 250 students to sign up.

On top of that, the e-mail offered two free movie passes and a free metrocard to any student who attended the event. The gifts would be given out after the students returned from the game.

There was also some added incentive to organizations to round up students, as the organization that brought the most students to the game would receive $1000 for their Earned Income Account.

It seems as if the school was almost bribing students to attend the game, which says a lot about school spirit at St. John’s. However, a serious flaw can also be found in the e-mail itself. It was sent less than 24 hours before game time. This left students with very little time to rearrange their schedules.

As with many of the University’s attempts to improve the school, the good intentions are certainly there. Unfortunately, it is in the execution of these attempts where St. John’s has
fallen short.

Rather than smelling like school spirit, it would seem that St. John’s program to increase attendance at basketball games stinks of desperation.