It’s not about our lack of mascot.
It’s not about our lack of football team.
It’s about pride, in ourselves and in our school.
And when Student Senate, Bradley athletics and the Bradley bookstore coordinated the “Rise of the Red” campaign, it seemed like an attempt to guilt or bribe students into school spirit.
Not that the push for more pride in Bradley, which is discussed further in this week’s article “somethingsomethingsomething,” is without its merits, because it’s not. At least they’re making an effort to rally our community. But why would we listen to authority figures when they’re trying to tell us how to feel about a group or a place, and how to best express those feelings?
It feels contrived.
Even Josiah Williams’ “One More Night” music video, which now has more than 20,000 views, feels forced. The marketing department’s idea of commissioning a talented student to write a song praising Bradley and Peoria has good intentions, but wouldn’t it mean more if the student decided to write it on his or her own?
Pride doesn’t come from a top-down regime change; pride comes from within.
We won’t be proud to be Braves until we know what a Brave is. No, a mascot isn’t the answer, that isn’t a fair placement of blame. It’s finding out who we are, of whom we can be proud and for whom we stand.
This week, Bradley students, faculty and alumni reposted of the “Bradley had a heartwarming reason for adding two grade-school brothers to its roster” Yahoo! Sports article. That’s true pride in Bradley, not the manipulated “wear red and get a coupon” campaign.
We can’t be told “Bradley is great” until Bradley is great. Or, more clearly stated, until we start talking about the people at Bradley that are doing great things.
When people talk about Bradley’s alumni, they usually list them in this order: Janitor from Scrubs, Shrek from the Broadway production of Shrek and some politicians whose names escape them.
But what about Dr. Emily Gill, the political science professor who published multiple books on marriage equality?
Or music professor Dr. John Orfe and his staff who are literally world-renowned composers?
The slogan on the posters and the videos and the websites is “Go Far, Go Bradley,” but where are we going?
We chose Bradley for a reason, and that reason wasn’t free t-shirts or hashtags. It wasn’t so that we could brag to people from other schools about how everyone on campus wears red shirts on Friday. And, for most of us, it wasn’t because of a sports team or a giant inflatable gargoyle.
The “Rise of the Red” campaign leaders need to learn that you can’t demand pride, you have to earn it.