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Pep rallies undergo revisions

John Cameron | Friday, October 8, 2010

This fall has seen the implementation of a multitude of changes to the format of pep rallies at Notre Dame, and while student participation fluctuated from week to week, student government is overall pleased with the results.

“I think that we definitely saw a positive response to the changes for the Michigan pep rally,” student body vice president Andrew Bell said. “The walkover seemed to be very successful, and we think it solved the issue of dorms standing amongst a bunch of alumni an hour before the rally.”

Bell said the changes helped with logistics and the overall atmosphere of the rallies.

“We thought the atmosphere of the Michigan rally was great. Attendance was high, we thought the fact the walkover included the band made it more exciting,” he said. “We recognize there were some issues especially as students were entering the section, and we’ve addressed those for the coming rally, so students won’t get clogged in.”

Student body president Catherine Soler believes the positive student feedback is evidence of the success of the changes.

“We’ve heard positive feedback because of the various different locations we used for the rallies, and we’re really pleased with how athletics has worked with us and how students have responded,” she said.

Bell believes the guest speakers have been central to the improved response from students.

“I think the guest speaker mixes things up, so it’s not the same week to week,” he said. “So we are still working with athletics to continue to get prominent speakers.”

Mike Oliver, Hall Presidents Council co-chair, thinks dorms have improved their display of school spirit in response to an incentive offered by head football coach Brian Kelly.

“We’ve also provided the dorms with the incentive of whoever comes with the most spirit has the opportunity to have Brian Kelly come to the dorms, and it’s worked really well,” Oliver said.

While the overall student response has been positive, Soler said she felt the student turnout at the student-only Boston College rally was lacking.

“We were disappointed with participation in the Stepan rally, and we think it can be indicative of many things,” she said. “From a planning perspective, we really did all we could. It could have been the timing, maybe it wasn’t a good time for students,” she said.

With the losing season, Soler recognizes that student government must work especially hard to encourage disheartened students to attend the rallies.

“I think one of the things that has made a big difference this year, and hopefully will continue to … is our emphasis on keeping them short and sweet and encourage dorm participation,” Soler said. “We want to brand the rallies as a time for students to get excited, have fun and socialize. We want it to be something they can do for themselves as well as in support of the team.”

Both Soler and Bell emphasized the pep rally format as being a work-in-progress.

“I think thus far we’ve been to all the locations possible and now we’re in the evaluation period, where we want to determine the best location and format in the eyes of the students,” Bell said. “We’re honing in on what students really want.”

Soler said student government has already taken steps to soliciting student advice on improving the rallies for the remainder of the season.

“Right now we’re just working to improve them, we’ll be sending out a student survey to get concrete data about what they liked about rallies and where we can improve them,” Soler said.

Bell said the key to improving the pep rallies will be to concentrate on the basics.

“We’ve tried to make the emphasis from the beginning that pep rallies are best when focused on the student body and the football team.”