Column: You can see the pride on their faces

Column: You can see the pride on their faces

I’m not the first to say this, and I definitely won’t be the last: The lack of school spirit here is a running joke. A cruel joke, but one that nonetheless exists.

Spirit spiked at the Oct. 21 homecoming football game – the game sold out and the staff did a commendable job moving merchandise, quickly selling out of game programs, the Sports Information office tells me. But here’s the kicker: it was the first sellout game the staff could remember in recent history.

Although President Joseph Aoun praised our school pride in his Homecoming wrap-up announcement, saying, “I was delighted to see Husky spirit on vivid display” and “Your enthusiasm for Northeastern is contagious,” my guess is that he’s still just getting used to the new digs. Actually, that’s not fair – I didn’t witness the school spirit, so I can’t judge. But I do know Northeastern isn’t known for its bountiful spirit. Some say school spirit is a lost cause at Northeastern. But I say not permanently lost.

How do we come together for a cause? Well, Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Penn., has an idea: an entire month devoted to the timeless art of mustache maintenance.

Movember, or Mustache November, is not just a group of male Swarthmore students combing their testosterone. Well, it is, but it’s more.

The student body gets into it and it’s highly supported within the school. The Student Activities Committee allocated funds for a social mixer Nov. 1 to round up support and willing growers. On Halloween, the school hosted a massive “Shave Off,” where growers shed all previous facial hair.

But despite the help, it’s still a grassroots campaign. “I see it as sort of a car show or a pie-baking contest,” said Swarthmore sophomore Dan Perelstein, a two-time Movember participant. “Basically the rule is no chin hair but everything else flies.”

For years, the event has been headed by the university’s registrar, who makes posters and flyers to promote the month, and organizes the Shave Off.

Here at Northeastern, we’ve got the groundwork for a similar character. Distinguished Professor Jack Levin of the Brudnick Center has perhaps the most touted mustache in town – if you haven’t met him, I’m sure you’ve seen him, and I’m sure you’ve been impressed. He could be our sponsor (if he’s willing).

And just look what it’s done for pride at Swarthmore. Can mustaches unite this campus? Tough call. Others have tried mustache efforts before, with moderate success.

Former News sports columnist Tim Coughlin attempted to get support for his underappreciated “Cinco De Mustache” tradition, coinciding with the Mexican holiday. Not enough people participated, and the event tanked.

On a personal note, such a competition is out of reach for me, since I grow patchy-at-best facial hair. But I would still feel a swell of Husky pride to see my fellow students grow spirit ‘Staches.

There is a drawback. It sounds pretty sexist since only men can participate. So, Dan, how do the ladies get involved?

“Some girls love it – since my mustache is pretty attractive right now,” he said, suggesting the girls can appreciate a good mustache from the sidelines, before giving a more hands-on example. “And there’s a countermovement that some girls started called Armpit November,” he said.

I’m sure you can guess what the girls are growing in the name of school spirit. For one reason or another, I doubt that’s going to fly here. So, maybe a mustache contest isn’t the answer. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking. After all, only roughly half the student body (myself excluded) can participate, and it comes off as rather sexist. Plus, the Facebook group “Mustaches Are Sweet” had only 21 members at Northeastern – at press time.

About a month ago, The News ran an editorial when the “Diehard Dog” T-shirt debuted and the Annual Northeastern Underwear Run semi-streaked through campus with chants and inspirational Northeastern rally cries. The piece made clear that school group-organized events are not the way to go, as it’s store-bought spirit, bought and paid for with tuition, and we resent it.

Good point. The big picture here is that the best, most honest school spirit comes from those truly rallying around the cause, most importantly, for love of the cause. Are they here? Yes, look how inspiring the fan section “the Dog House” has been, sticking with the hockey team through the toughest of times. Spirit’s here; it’s just not obvious much of the time.

So, if I’ve inspired you at all, consider this a call to action more than anything else. If you’ve got school pride, show it. Grow that mustache. Run around in your undies. Tell your friends to do it too. Start a movement.

We need something, and even if it isn’t hairy, it’s got to grow from the students.

– Glenn Yoder can be reached at [email protected]

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