Will Rice stays strong during Beer Bike
Will Rice Will Sweep! As Beer Bike approached at Will Rice College, the cheer had its usual rise in popularity. Surprisingly, it had a new popularity at other colleges too. For two weeks these colleges shared in our elevated levels of obsession for Will Rice. The sentiments were different. The obsessions, however, were the same.
So I wonder: What could spark such a united flame against Will Rice?
The Baker College vendetta against Will Rice is old news. It doesn't surprise any Will Ricer to hear "F*** Will Rice" from a Bakerite. Actually, it comes at the end of a Baker drinking song. Baker orientation week also teaches a one-sided rivalry between the colleges.
After our first, first and second place performance at Beer Bike, a Jonesian told a Will Rice freshman that "they" had won. However, he wasn't drawing from the usual vein of "Jones wins again!" He meant the other colleges had won when Will Rice didn't sweep.
The comment was a perfect snapshot of a new level of attitude. The "F#ck Will Rice" beer koozies were a nice touch by Martel College. Bitter yells of "Nobody cares about Beer Bike" rang out at Sid Richardson College. Anti-Will Rice slogans were painted on shirts at Brown College, and a proposal at Lovett College to paint a mural of a stag peeing on a phoenix drove the point home. Happy Willy Week, everybody! There's Will Rice, and there's us.
And why? Not much is different. Our bikers sleep on campus all week, and wake-up call comes at 4:30 a.m. here, too. What is so deserving of criticism then: that we have enough college spirit to want to win? What is the reason for the all-against-one attitude: that we don't quit, forfeit or scoff at those who care?
In 1915, President Edgar Odell Lovett wrote that "[the American college spirit] is the freedom of sound learning and the fellowship of youth; it is the spirit of solidarity, the spirit of co-operation, the collective spirit of corporate unity . . . It rings in the song after defeat as well as in the shoutings of victory. It is progress and purpose . . . It owns the college, loves the college, runs the college. Let this be the spirit of Rice."
This is our spirit. At Will Rice, we are proud to try; we try hard. We enjoy doing it - in every academic and social facet. Ours is a tradition of excellence hard-fought, not an elitist divine right. When I listen to criticism from students and candid confessions from presidents about their colleges, I have to wonder one thing: What does your college rally behind? Where and when does your spirit of solidarity, cooperation and collective unity shine through? As a former president, intimately familiar with the problems of the colleges, I mean it when I say the disparities in collective pride and spirit are great among the colleges.
While Beer Bike isn't the only time our spirit shines, it certainly peaks. We wouldn't have three or four dozen alumni come back every year otherwise. We couldn't organize over 60 people for a shot at a sweep otherwise. This is our leadership, our enthusiasm, our pride at its best, and we love every minute of it.
It's okay that not everybody cares about Beer Bike or the President's Cup. Lovett, Hanszen College and to a new degree, Duncan College and McMurtry College will keep those rivalries alive today. But for the others who criticize and scoff at our competitiveness, I wonder where you stand united.
I challenge you to divulge some tradition of major cooperative spirit so we may all be wiser. Where is your art? Your debate? Your progress? Does your tradition leave behind a trail of broken cliques and social gaps? Whatever it is, I am sincerely curious. And if all you have is a united front against Will Rice, I am sorry. We will continue to celebrate the bonds of sportsmanship in our quad on Fridays and every Willy Week hereafter. We will continue to try, because it's more fun to try, and because we love Will Rice just that much.
Eddie Reyes is a Will Rice College senior.
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