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Our pep rally manifesto

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, October 2, 2008

We are done with pep rallies at the Joyce Athletic Center (JACC). Sorin College has been invited to be one of six dorms hosting this week’s pep rally. We have declined that invitation and will not attend any more home game pep rallies while they are held in the JACC.

Rather than simply bail out, we think the team, the band, and other students deserve to know why we won’t be inside the JACC anymore. We also hope to spark a larger movement to return pep rallies to a true student body event.

The JACC pep rally, as it now stands, has long outlived its purpose. The JACC rallies are pedestrian, overly-scripted and devoid of any and all spontaneity. With an endless train of performance troupes, videos and acknowledgements of groups in attendance, JACC rallies are simply a showcase for various members of the Notre Dame family. For a showcase, they are just fine, but for a pep rally, they are downright miserable.

Pep rallies should involve only three groups – the students, the band and the team. They are about this entire student body coming together to send forth a single, barbaric yawp. They are a last chance to remind ourselves, and each other, this is who we are. This is whom we sweat and bleed and play for; this is whom we stand and scream and cheer for. This is what we fight for. Pep rallies need to be stripped of their Disney sugarcoating and returned to their raw essentials: noise, emotion and pandemonium.

For starters, return the rallies to the Stepan Center. Take away the divide between students and players staring back and forth at each other and cram us all together on one floor. No seats. Bring back the smell, the noise and the feel of real, un-tethered spirit. Throw out the scripts and let the student body take over. First come-first served; no tickets. Pep rallies should be of the students, by the students and for the students. This means parents, alumni and outside visitors aren’t invited. If they want to come, they’re more than welcome – but they’ll be one of us, not a polite guest at our show.

At times, some of these elements are present now. But for the most part, JACC events are more show than rally. Given this administration’s willingness to jettison student creativity and passion in favor of a family-friendly festival (See: Dillon Pep Rally), changing the pep rallies will require dramatic action on our part.

The student body is the glue holding JACC rallies together. For too long, our support of the team has been co-opted by the athletic department to serve as entertainment for alumni and visitors.

Thus, we will exercise the most basic power we have – we won’t show up. Of course, the danger in withdrawing support from the JACC rally is the perception we are also withdrawing support from our team. We know the team hates the JACC rallies too and they can’t do much about it. But suffering with them while we can do something is a poor form of support.

We’ll still be standing with them from whistle to whistle. We’ll still be hoarse come Monday morning. We’ll still be singing the alma mater with them, win or lose. We just won’t be standing around for an hour and half waiting for our 15 minutes with the team.

Instead, we’ll meet the team outside the JACC and let them know we’ve still got their back. If you feel like we do, and don’t want to take part in the Pep Rally Showcase, stay outside and join us. Plus, this is about more than just pep rallies – we all want to lay a butt-whuppin’ on Stanford tomorrow.

Go Irish!

Aidan McKiernan

Tristan Hunt


Sorin College

Oct. 2