If St. FX is a microcosm of our country, then our school spirit is like our own little version of patriotism. Patriotism, misunderstood, can be a dangerous tool and can discourage citizens from thinking critically and individually; school spirit can have the same effect.
We are here from all over the world, and our Canadian location is often given a backseat to our academic setting. People get a hell of a lot more excited (read: drunk) on X-ring than they do for Canada Day, and an X-ring spotted on the hand of a fellow traveler will certainly inspire more excitement than a Canadian flag on his or her backpack.
This isn’t a bad thing: a feeling of community is a huge part of what the staff, professors, and students’ union are trying to accomplish. However, as in any community, it’s equally important that people keep their own individuality and hold to their own values as it is for them to work together.
This can also go badly wrong. To see a nice, wholesome example of students completely losing their individuality in favour of a mob mentality, stop by this year’s Burmac game. Happy, cheering students congregate on opposite sides of a rink – partly to support their respective housemates, and partly to get shitfaced and question the purity of one another’s mothers and sisters. These are normally nice kids, but for three hours every year, they are the people their parents warned them about.
Burmac may be an extreme example, but just like with Burmac, it’s easy to get caught up in the party that is being a part of something bigger (also known as tradition) and forget that we are still individuals. Amongst all the chanting, cheering, reverent torch-passing and reminders that we are family, we tend to forget that we pay to be in this family.
There is no doubt that there is more to being a student than earning a degree. Once we leave here, we will have yet another community to which we can claim membership, and that is only a good thing as long as it’s a place we can be proud to have come from. You don’t hear many Toronto Maple Leafs from the last three decades bragging about their glory. There is no glory. Not even a little bit of glory. That’s because they didn’t do anything to earn it.
An X ring may cost a small fortune, but its value is ultimately dependent on what it represents. To have school spirit doesn’t necessarily mean going to watch every X-men game (although it doesn’t hurt), or forcing a frosh to drink his or her weight in Purple Jesus. It means taking pride in trying to leave behind a better community; and when a someone spots your X ring clutching fifty pesos at a cockfight in La Paz, you will be reminded of home, rather than the 800-dollars worth of collateral sitting on your finger.