Tradition cannot be forced

By The Chronicle’s View

Most would agree that tradition enriches the landscape of a university and that the U could certainly benefit from an increase in student customs. That does not mean, however, that we should look to our student government to provide the initiative for these new customs.

This year’s officially proposed additions to Ute culture include a new dance marathon and a “Crimson Kissing” tradition, in which everybody kisses his or her partner during football games. Neither idea is original, and neither owes any of its inspiration to the historical attributes of our school. Furthermore, neither “proposed tradition” seems likely to catch on.

The Associated Students of the University of Utah leaders cannot be blamed for trying to promote student involvement, but the onus falls on the students of the U themselves to create lasting institutions.

How can we do that? It’s simple, really: Get involved with the school and take part in activities that foster a sense of pride in the U.

A group of MUSS students raised money throughout the local community for a tailgating pirate ship that has attended numerous Ute football games and won the envy of many a fervent Ute supporter. A pirate ship may not have too much to do with arid, landlocked Utah, but at least the students began this tradition themselves. As a result, they carry a personal attachment to their creation, which gives it what all traditions desperately need: meaning.

While ASUU can continue to try to improve the situation by providing new events, which-if well done-could potentially catch on, a few student leaders alone cannot overcome the nonchalant nature of the mass of students at the U.

As a commuter school, the U was, for a long time, nothing more than a haven for Utah residents who couldn’t afford or be admitted to BYU. During its younger years, in which traditions are generally formed at a school, the U didn’t have a sound foundation of pride on which to build a strong student culture.

Times have changed, however, and may continue to change. Many current Utah students are proud to be attending a well-ranked state institution in Salt Lake City, and many others are still happier to play the role of rivals to the hated Cougars. Ute athletics continue to thrive, and the campus shows signs of industrious progress.

If current trends continue, the many commuter students of the U might find themselves plenty prideful-enough that they would need no prompting to create new traditions at the U.

In the meantime, we can only hope. And, as ASUU has done, keep trying.