Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass Pride: an Action Plan

By Ryan Walsh

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Micheal Wood/Collegian

I recently wrote an article titled “Where’s Our UMass Pride?” and received a lot of feedback from it. The article was about the general lack of pride at the University of Massachusetts and how this negatively affects all of us, whether or not we realize it. Many students got in touch with me and communicated that they indeed did feel a sense of UMass pride but were unsure of how to specifically express or act on that feeling. They wanted to do something but didn’t know what that something was. Accordingly, I felt it’d be helpful to make a list of specific things UMass students can do to show their pride, thereby making us all better off. These options are simple but impactful. So, here it is, 10 things you can do right now to make UMass a better place:

1.) Go to athletic events. It doesn’t matter what sporting event you attend or who the team is playing against. It doesn’t matter if UMass is the best or the worst team in the country. Showing support for any and all of our teams will make more top athletes want to come to play here. If athletes want to play here, the teams will logically be better. It doesn’t matter if you love or hate sports – go. If our athletic programs were more successful, alumni would be more likely to donate, making every aspect of our school better funded and more successful. Next time you go to a UMass tailgate, actually go into the stadium, too.

2.) Join the Alumni Association and the UMass Club in Boston. Do this right when you graduate. Both are great ways to connect with alumni. Alumni look after their own; they are eager to help recent graduates but often struggle to find them. You’ll never get anywhere if your job search consists of scouring job posting boards from your parents’ basement. The Alumni Association and the UMass Club are great ways to get your name out there in the UMass alumni community and to prove that you care. Joining the Alumni Association is free, but membership is worthless if you don’t take advantage of its opportunities. Go to events and get involved. The UMass Club is located on the 33rd floor of a high rise in Boston’s financial district. While membership is not free, recent graduates pay a discounted fee, and the cost is indeed insignificant in exchange for the connections and opportunities that the Club offers.

3.) Be the change you want to see. Understand the implications of your actions. It’s easy to think of yourself as one of many at UMass; that your personal actions will not have any impact on UMass as a whole. When you embody such a mindset, it’s likely that you’ll separate your actions from their consequences, which results in people throwing bottles at police on Hobart Lane. At some point, one individual straw will break a camel’s back. Doing something – despite understanding that if everyone did that same thing, we’d fall apart – is one of our major problems.

4.) Start a scholarship (with friends). This may seem difficult or expensive, but it really isn’t. If you plus nine friends each pledge $100 a year to a scholarship, one fortunate student will receive a much needed $1,000 check to help pay for his or her education. If you make $25,000 a year when you graduate, that $100 donation will amount to only 0.4 percent of your salary but will have a huge impact on the lives of its recipients and on UMass’ public image. Think of how happy you’d be if you received a $1,000 scholarship tomorrow. When alumni notice that students have recognized the need for more scholarships and are acting on that need with their own money, the alumni will be much more willing to donate.

5.) Lie, or plead the 5th. Of course I don’t mean this literally, but we should be more guarded about what happens here. This comes from pride. Students from many of our rival schools will never concede any negative information about their school. Much like how Bill Belichick will never say the Patriots’ defense was underprepared for a game (even if it’s true), students from many top schools will never admit their own school’s shortcomings. At UMass, if the local news comes to cover a party that erupted into violence, people will line up to spill their guts about what happened in exchange for a brief and petty TV appearance. We need to brag more about our strengths and we need to be more tightlipped about our shortcomings. Why would people willingly say bad things about their own school on the news and in public? Doing so negatively impacts each UMass student and boils down to a lack of pride.

6.) Volunteer in the area. Amherst, Holyoke and Springfield are always looking for volunteers. By volunteering, you’ll positively improve the local perception of UMass and its students. While the ultimate goal is positive national perception, we must start small. This will have exponential benefits. When you call to volunteer, tell the organization that you would like to help out on behalf of UMass Amherst. When you’re there, wear a UMass shirt or hat so they are reminded where you’re from. This isn’t shameless publicity but rather a way of expressing your UMass pride while doing good in the community. If you need a place to start, try contacting the Boys and Girls Club in Springfield or the Bangs Community Center in Amherst.

7.) Donate. There are plenty of underfunded areas of UMass. No gift or donation is too big or too small. Establishing a habit of donating when you’re young will no doubt translate into adulthood. Even if you donate your pocket change, it’s a start. If every student donated $5 right now, we’d instantly raise about $135,000. It doesn’t matter where you donate – you can give your money to whatever specific departments or programs you want, or just to the University as a whole. For a good starting place to donate, look into the UMass Student Philanthropy Committee.

8.) Be aware of what’s going on around campus. This one is important and easy… just go to Wikipedia. When an outsider asks you about something at UMass, you should at least be able to briefly comment on it. I’m not saying you should be an expert on all things UMass, but have a relative feel for what’s going on at your own school. This can be extended to knowledge of UMass’ history, too. Pride involves understanding how we got to where we are today. While you don’t necessarily need to know who our 3rd chancellor was, you should know some basic things, like why Amherst was chosen as the location for UMass and what year our school was founded. This obvious form of pride will give UMass students more credibility and respect.

9.) Respect UMass peers, faculty, property and police. This one is easy and obvious. I’m not saying you have to like or be friends with everyone, but you don’t need to be rude either. Common courtesy goes a long way. UMass is like one giant family living in a big house that is our campus. You’d never break a window at your own house. And sure, you might have a crazy uncle that is considered an outsider by the family, but you still treat him with respect. Having pride in UMass is all encompassing. Selective pride is part of our problem. Simply put, treat everything and everyone at UMass with respect.

10.) Just do something. For those who don’t see themselves doing any of my other ideas, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do something – anything that you think will help UMass and/or exemplify your UMass pride. This can be as simple or complex as you want it to be, but our pervasive inaction isn’t getting us anywhere. Merely claiming to be proud of UMass is not enough. Act on that feeling and do whatever you can to help.

I hope this is a helpful starting ground. While I like to think my specific steps will point you in the right direction, it ultimately boils down to you, the reader. If there is anything I can clarify or elaborate on or help you with, please don’t hesitate to contact me – I’ll be happy to help. At the end of the day, it’s easy to make excuses, but that will catch up to you sooner than you think. Start small, but start now. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Ryan Walsh is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]

 

8 Comments

8 Responses to “UMass Pride: an Action Plan”

  1. Brian Long on November 18th, 2011 11:00 am

    As someone who has been putting on tailgates since it was reinstated in 2002-2003, I have done my best to encourage everyone that shows up to actually go into the football games. Hopefully that will change tomorrow.

    Well written article, keep up the good work!

    Brian

  2. Michaella Morzuch on November 18th, 2011 11:29 am

    Thank you! From a proud ’03 and ’08G alum!

  3. UMass Pride on November 18th, 2011 12:28 pm

    Great article, with 5,000 graduates every year improving our image should be easy, especially with all the academic feats UMass has been pulling off!

  4. Proud Alumnus on November 18th, 2011 1:58 pm

    Ryan-
    Thanks for a great article. There are many who are very proud of UMASS and work tirelessly to promote it. I am glad to see that current students are also trying to let everyone know that UMASS is a great university. A few other suggestions-

    1) Study hard, graduate with honors and become the person everyone thinks you can be.
    2) Represent the University well in every aspect of your academic life.

  5. Mark Kaye on November 18th, 2011 2:24 pm

    Well written article. Thank you.

    Go watch the UMASS Marching Band play at the UMASS game tomorrow. These 380+ students know the meaning of the words excellence and UMASS pride!

    Go UMASS!

  6. John Cronin on November 18th, 2011 6:12 pm

    Agree completely. I’ve never understood the attitude of my fellow students and alums, especially compared to students and alums of peer schools. Despite that I’ve found UMASS has a better reputation the further one gets from MA. Pack the stadium tomorrow.

    1973 grad

  7. Clif Banner '70 on November 19th, 2011 7:24 pm

    Ryan, good article–good advice.
    Items 1, 4, and 7 are important to me, as they’ve proven well over time. Even if some sport isn’t your favorite, it supports the team–therefore, the students, and especially for low-attendance sports (e.g., not football, basketball, or hockey), gives one a view of other athletes at UMass. The exemplar of pride at UMass is the UMass Minuteman Marching Band (UMMB), of course, and you’ll see that same spirit with the Hoop Band, as well. So, attend the sports events, even if it’s the music entertainment you’re looking for.
    Getting yourself and a few of your friends, and their parents and siblings, when able, to contribute to a scholarship is a great way to show one’s appreciation of the talent students bring to the campus. Also, there are many annual fundraisers that want volunteers for calling banks–if you can stand to take “No” or “No, Thank You” for 95 out of 100 calls and can maintain your composure and self-esteem–those 5% of the people that agree to donate $10 or more will make all the turndowns worthwhile.
    The other donation that has really made sense to me is to contact the Department of Music and Dance, tell the Director of Giving and Fundraising that you have a few hundred dollars to sponsor a group of talented musicians to entertain at some special function (you pick it), and you’ll have something tangible to show for your donation. The groups receiving your donation are always very grateful for your donations, no matter how small, and the Department will respond enthusiastically and will help guide your giving.

  8. Michael Wall '88, '91 G on November 21st, 2011 1:54 pm

    Nicely done, Ryan. I will add that for #2, when you live outside of the Boston metro area, become involved with alumni chapters in your area. If there isn’t one, what a great way to meet other UMass alumni in the area!

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