If you didn’t know this past week was NYU Spirit Week, you’re not alone. NYU is not famous for its spirit, so it is not surprising that Spirit Week events came and went without much attention from students. If you took the time to look at the events planned, you would notice that the majority come with something you wouldn’t expect a celebration of school-spirit to mandate: a price tag. It seems NYU’s Student Government Assembly thinks the best way to make spirit appealing to students is to sell it for the low cost of $5— although prices may vary.
Violet 100, NYU’s official spirit week, was designed to “bring the community together” through different events, according to its website. The first few events: a UNICEF Service Event, All-University Games and Thank-A-Donor, eased students into spirit week. Community focused at first, the events slyly shifted to an emphasis on the 1831 Fund — a student-supported scholarship fund for incoming first-years or transfer students. The events seemed to be commendable attempts at encouraging school spirit. However, each of the last three events of the week all carried a price tag. UltraViolet Live, NYU’s talent show, tickets cost $15 per student — unless students chose to wait in the line that wraps around the Kimmel Center for University Life the night of. Violet Ball, essentially prom for NYU, was $20 for advanced tickets with an encouraged $25 to show Violet Pride. Then Sunday Brunch is $5 for entry. One could argue that these events are worth the price, but this makes spirit week more about fundraising than spirit. Associating a cost with NYU spirit truly corrupts the notion of school pride. Requiring payment for Spirit Week activities is more likely to discourage attendance than encourage it — contradictory to Violet 100’s goal of promoting a sense of community.
NYU Spirit Week events encouraged an additional $5 donation to the 1831 Fund on top of the cost of attendance, and many events offered special perks to students who payed the extra donation. The fund may be for a good cause, but spirit events should be something every student can get involved in free of charge. NYU is already one of the most expensive schools in the country — is asking students for more money really how we want to express our spirit? Violet 100 actually set up a website labeled “1831 Fund School Competition,” pitting schools against each other to see which school could donate the most money. Winners earned All-University Game points, once again intertwining donations with spirit.
Fundraisers are not bad, but painting an image of a school spirit week when it is really a thinly veiled fundraiser is wrong. There are many students who either cannot afford or do not want to spend extra money on school events. If SGA really wants to encourage spirit, it should do so in a way that is inclusive for everyone.
NYU may be lacking in school spirit, and although some NYU students may have more disposable income on average than students from other schools, the solution is not putting a price tag on Spirit Week. Violet 100 should be an opportunity for students to come together and participate in fun activities while engaging with the school community. Instead, NYU’s Spirit Week demands payment and focuses more on fundraising than school pride.
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A version of this article appeared the Monday, Feb. 26 print edition. Email Victor Porcelli at [email protected]