Students split over SJU school spirit

Who’s got school spirit?

Well, that depends on who you ask.

Students seem to be divided over the amount of enthusiasm and support exhibited for University functions, particularly St. John’s sporting events.

Some feel school pride is at an all-time high.

“School spirit has gotten a lot better,” said senior Kareem Tyree. “I think students over the past few years are going to more events and activities on campus and adding to the college atmosphere here.”

But, others have a different point of view.

“School spirit definitely used to be better,” said graduate student Rodney Mercado. “I think there should be more advertising for events, people just don’t know what’s going on around here.”

Steve Bua, a senior, shared similar concerns.

“Overall, I think school spirit among students, as a whole, can improve,” he said. “I know things are being done to try and work on it, but there could be more enthusiasm on campus.”

John Kelly, vice president for Student Government, Inc., has an optimistic view on school spirit.

“I have noticed a marked change in school spirit and pride at St. John’s in my four years here,” said Kelly, a senior. “Students are far more involved and connected to St. John’s and all that it has to offer today as opposed to four years ago.”

Kelly cites a 400 percent increase in Men’s Soccer attendance from 2005 to 2008 and a raise in Men’s basketball season ticket holders from 100 in 2005 to over 700 in 2008 as examples of an upward trend of support.

“Student Government and Redzone took the early lead in increasing attendance and school spirit, and recently the rest of the University has rallied behind us and taken its own steps to increase school spirit through student engagement,” he said.

Christina Zaccarelli, SGI Chair for School Spirit, mentioned activities centering around student and student-athlete interactions as a method used to raise St. John’s pride.

“In the past, we’ve done mini-pep rallies where students get the opportunity to meet with and talk to some of the players before games. We’ve also had programs where students have dinner with the players after the games too,” she said.

“We did all this to help bridge the gap between students and student-athletes with the belief that the more students get to know the players, the more they would be willing to provide support for the players at the games because you are now rooting for people you know.”

Recently, more incentives have been added to help increase student attendance for St. John’s events.

For a Feb. 5 St. John’s Men’s Basketball road game against Seton Hall University, 250 students were bused to New Jersey’s Prudential Center to watch the Red Storm play and were given a voucher that could be exchanged for two free movie tickets and a metro card. In addition, students received free food and a free t-shirt.

Zaccarelli said similar away game trips are being planned for the upcoming baseball, softball and lacrosse seasons.

Free movie tickets and metro cards were also offered in exchange for attending Feb. 8’s St. John’s Men’s and Women’s basketball games at Madison Square Garden.

Also, the student organization that signed up the most members to attend the Seton Hall game received $1,000 towards their group’s earned income account.

Zaccarelli said the inclusion of the added enticements left her pleased with the student turnout.

“It was exciting because a lot of people came that I had never seen before,” she said. “It brought out a lot of people who may have not come out otherwise, so it was a good thing.”

Every student that attends the final five St. John’s basketball home games will be entered into a raffle, where five chosen students will have their $500 housing deposit towards waived.
“We’re hoping this gets a lot of resident students to the games,” she said.

Although Zaccarelli acknowledged that attendance and a team’s success generally go hand-in-hand, she also stressed that student participation for sporting events should not depend on a team’s win-loss column.

“It shouldn’t be about whether we’re winning or losing, it should be about continuing the tradition of supporting our teams,” she said.