Like many of you, I went to Engineering Day last Friday. It was really exciting, eating the free food, enjoying the music, and catching up with friends. It was also a tonne of fun to run the purpling station for a few hours, helping students refresh their engineering spirit with their first or fourth purpling.
There was, however, one less-than-pleasing thing that I found with Engineering Day: the reception of the Tool. When it arrived, the cheering was so sparse and quiet that I, sitting facing away from the POETS patio, didn’t even know it was there for a short time. Once I did see it, I shot up and began cheering at the top of my lungs, hoping that those around me would join in. For the most part, they did not. It was very frustrating, watching hundreds of people who had shown up for the nominal purpose of celebrating the Engineering Faculty, the Tool, and ourselves standing there silently. To be sure, there were other people cheering; I was far from the first to start. Looking around, though, I felt like I knew most of my fellow cheerers by name, and that they knew me. I also know that cheering and school spirit isn’t everyone’s thing, and that’s OK. What astonished me was the size of the body of students who weren’t cheering. I was expecting something akin to Orientation Week, where the vast majority of leaders and incoming first years cheer their lungs out for the Tool.
I know that I don’t have the right to demand everyone else cheer, or to tell others how to have fun. Maybe I shouldn’t be bothered that the “TOOOOOOOOOOLS” were quieter than I wanted, or that faculty spirit is only really widespread around Orientation Week. So I don’t want admonish, or judge (which, unfortunately, a previous draft of this rant did). What I want to do is encourage. Everyone who’s reading this and who feels like they don’t get school spirit, or that they’re too busy, or that they just don’t care: I understand. For my first two years here at Waterloo, I did very little except for my one extra-curricular, The Iron Warrior. There are so many other things to do, things that take less time, or things like studying that are more important than attending events. Then I attended one EngSoc council meeting. From that one meeting, a seed was planted that evolved into a loud, cheering, event-attending alter-ego. That won’t happen to everyone, not everyone would want that to happen. That’s OK. What I would like, what I want to encourage, is for anyone who has a spare hour to attend an event, to do so. There are so many great opportunities to get involved and make friends at Waterloo; seeing the crowd at Engineering Day made me realize how many people aren’t a part of it. I think that many of them would flourish if they got involved, and it disheartens me to think that some of them won’t because no one around them is.
In summary, my initial frustration was misplaced. Everyone doesn’t have to be a psycho-cheering machine, or even cheer at all. You can probably be a happy, productive student without attending any events or celebrations between O-Week and Convocation. What is not misplaced, however, is a desire for more people to participate in the community and engage in the traditions. It’s fun, makes the school year go by faster, and makes the memories that you will actually remember when you graduate. I was late to the party too, so I can say with complete confidence that it’s not too late to get out there and participate. If seeing the ToolBearers on Friday brought a smile to your face, or if you excitedly threw yourself into the big purple smoke cloud during the purple throw, but you otherwise feel like getting involved isn’t for you, please please give it a shot: if a seed gets planted, you won’t regret it. If a seed doesn’t get planted, well, many events offer free food.