College. Cue the montage of football games, lots of students milling about in school colors, moderate to extreme partying, fancy science labs, awkward flirtation, sunny days with grassy areas covered with a diverse student body out to study in the sunshine … you know the drill. The college experience is something that’s heavily romanticized. Honestly, maybe it should be. College is supposed to be one of the most fun, meaningful and productive times of your life as a young adult. So what are the key ingredients in the college experience that foster those feelings?
There’s no argument that Drexel is a great university which supplies its students with tons of opportunity, a challenging curriculum, preparation for a life spent contributing to the workforce, and more. All of these points are key to a gratifying college experience. However, there’s one thing the montage described above has that Drexel sorely lacks: a sense of school spirit.
How are we, students enrolled in what is arguably a great university, not imbued with a sense of pride for the Dragons, a sense of love for our Drexel community? Many point to the lack of successful high-profile sports teams, but the problem might run deeper.
In general, there is a lack of communication and support between university administration and the factors of Drexel that make our life here diverse, exciting, social, and fulfilling: our student organizations.
There are 375 recognized student organizations currently listed on DragonLink, and the number and diversity of clubs on campus is very impressive for a university that stuffs our schedules with more classes than we can count. The student organization spirit on campus is lively and diverse and adored by what can probably be called a majority of the student body. So why doesn’t the school spirit associated with being a part of student life seem to extend to being a Drexel Dragon?
The resources provided for student organizations on campus are amazing, and the people who work in student life fight hard to give organizations the support and assistance they deserve. However, the amount of red tape, the limitations of funds and space and the general lack of communication and visibility between Drexel administration and student life makes running an organization on campus a stressful and difficult endeavor.
Just to host a general body meeting, it is required that student organizations submit a 4-6 page request for space at a minimum of two full business weeks in advance. To reserve a room on campus to host a meeting, you must compete with every other organization over the four to ten prime meeting spaces offered — not to mention that almost every organization tries to reserve the most available weekday evenings, when most students are freed from their crazy class schedules. There is no student center to speak of, not compared to other major universities in Philadelphia. While Temple has an entire building dedicated to student life, Drexel only offers one basement and a few odd classrooms and conference rooms available for space reservations. To juggle this scheduling and leadership nightmare with the demanding school life (not to mention the notions of sleep and social life) is a bit hectic, to say the least.
There are many things Drexel administration could be doing to address these difficulties, but arguably the simplest solution is to provide more funding and more space for student organizations to function with and in. There is no excuse for the lack of office, storage, and meeting space for the 375 organizations on campus, and the lack of sharable resources only causes confusion, bitterness, and one more instance of the “Drexel shaft” to those of the student body who are, arguably, the most involved, the most dedicated and the most willing to participate in alumni relations after graduating.
The importance of working with student organizations to foster a sense of school love and pride at Drexel cannot be understated. Rather than trying to force a sense of school pride for 24 hours each spring to raise money, maybe we should be organically growing a sense of pride in our passions outside of our majors.