For years I have been a proponent of increasing Rice pride. I’ve said it to friends, family and I’ve even used this column to increase awareness of this issue. Rice students are often too focused on schoolwork or the happenings in their residential colleges to realize that we all have something in common: We’re all Owls.

The administration seems to agree. Having participated in this year’s Orientation Week, that much was readily apparent. It seemed the administration tried to cultivate a unity within Rice that may have been lacking in the past. During O-Week, it was clear that Rice tried to increase school pride, but at the expense of residential college pride. Seeing it first hand, my attitude toward the issue changed. The two are not mutually exclusive, and the assumption that they are has a negative impact on our college experience.

I do and will always stand by my belief that Rice students need more pride in their school. That does not mean, however, that they cannot simultaneously have college pride. With the elimination of cheer battle and the deferral of teaching anti-cheers until the very end of the week, it was clear the administration sought to promote a unified campus focused on inclusivity. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the concept, but the execution was flawed. Events such as Rice Rally during O-Week are fun and effective in cultivating Rice pride, but eliminating other events designated to promote college pride are not helping the issue.

Part of the reason many of us came to Rice is the residential college system. Trying to tone down college rivalries and understate the differences between colleges is counter to what Rice has been and should be. We need to protect the college system that makes Rice special. 

There is no reason college and university pride need to be exclusive. Have pride in your college, but understand what binds us all together. Our colleges are all great, but there is something even greater than that. As Rice students, we are afforded the ability to live in our colleges, obtain a great degree and continue to have a connection to our university. One of the best ways to stay connected to your alma mater is through athletics.

When we all graduate, are we going to watch college powderpuff games or Rice football games? Both are great, but a college represents around 400 students while the university represents every Rice student and alum the world over. Love your college and love your university. They are both incredible institutions that need to be preserved and improved. One does not need to improve at the expense of the other.

I consider myself both a Rice student and a Murt. The two are not mutually exclusive. Trying to decrease the influence of individual residential colleges to increase Rice spirit is not a solution. It is trying to fix a problem in an ineffective and potentially harmful manner. 

Go to Rice games. Go to college games. Root for both with spirit and pride. In the end, remember your college and how it acted as your home for four years. But never forget what we all have in common: We are all Rice Owls.

The Fifth Quarter is a column written by Sports Editor Evan Neustater. The opinions expressed in the column are solely his own.