There are billboards upwards of 20 miles outside of Athens, 10 miles outside of Watkinsville, that advertise that you are approaching UGA. There’s no similar signage advertising the Oconee campus or the University of North Georgia — short of the sign located on campus.
Business surrounding the Oconee campus have marquees set up that proclaim pro-UGA slogans such as “Go Dawgs,” but there is not one marquee that displays pro-UNG language. Further, UGA’s reach into the community at large is so expansive that from the property of the Oconee campus you can see the UGA’s Oconee County Extension office.
This can be disheartening to students wanting to feel proud of their school, when they are constantly bombarded with advertisements for a different institution. It can be challenging to feel proud and enthusiastic about being a Nighthawk, especially at the Oconee campus.
The Oconee campus has a lot working against it in terms of school spirit, principally that it does not have the same collegiate environment as many other institutions, or even other UNG campuses.
At the Dahlonega campus, for instance, you have a college town built around UNG. The community at large is involved in the spirit of being a Nighthawk. However, at the Oconee campus, you have a college town built around a different school, the University of Georgia.
The Oconee campus is only a two-year campus, meaning you can either earn an associate degree or complete the first two years of a bachelor’s degree. So every student who is attending the Oconee campus and intends to earn more than an associate degree must transfer somewhere else, be it internally to another UNG campus or to a different university.
School spirit is an investment in the institution, a sense of pride in saying “I go to UNG.” It can be difficult to be invested in a school you know you can’t graduate from.
School spirit can be bred from involvement in school activities, such as clubs, speakers and intramural sports. However, because of the Oconee campus’ size it can be challenging to get involved. Most of the activities offered are in the middle of the day, which is fine for some students, but not for student’s like me, who have to work it prevents them from getting involved.
I have to be at work at 11 a.m. almost every day of the week, which precludes me from being involved in nearly all of the activities that the Oconee campus has to offer. This lack of opportunities to get involved has not helped to foster a sense of school spirit; in fact, it has done the opposite.
At the Dahlonega and Gainesville campuses, activities take place at many different times throughout the day, allowing more students to become involved and fostering more school spirit.
To bolster school spirit, UNG Oconee should provide more opportunities for students to get involved. One way is to change when clubs and intramural sports meet to sometime other than the middle of the day, or to offer clubs and intramural sports that meet at alternate times. UNG could also reach out to the surrounding community and build a community that supports the university and its students, making them proud to be Nighthawks.
UNG is a great school, and one that students at all campuses should be proud to attend. However, there are barriers to the feelings of pride and enthusiasm. UNG should work to foster a stronger sense of school spirit at all of their campuses, because it will benefit the culture of the university at large, and make better Nighthawks out of all of us.