By DANIEL KLAPHEKE
Allow me to share with you one of my greatest frustrations.
I am enrolled at Eastern seeking a higher education and a successful future, similar to many of you who read past the headline above. I gladly pay for the luxuries and opportunities that I am fortunate enough to receive here. Again, this applies to many of you.
What I certainly don’t pay for, however, is to see the insignias of other universities being merrily boasted around campus.
It brings me physical pain to walk to class and see the typical UK dreamer decked out from head to toe in Wildcat apparel. Why on earth would you pay tuition here, dedicate so much of your time to the university, but support some place you have no association with? Rather than complaining, however, I’m in search for the core of the issue.
I’m not oblivious to the fact that the vast majority of the commonwealth is divided into Kentucky and Louisville fans. Sadly, those factions fail to foster pride in their local establishments and simply root for the bigwigs. This gives schools like us the amazing opportunity to be hipsters. No, we’re not flannel-wearing vinyl listeners, but instead a band of individualists who don’t have to conform to social norms just because they’re social norms.
For the record, I love wearing flannels and listening to vinyl.
There’s something to be said about a group of people who are proud of what they do and where they’re from. Pride is not just a deadly sin, but also of a show of confidence. If this this university needs anything, it’s the confidence to say, “I’m an Eastern Kentucky Colonel and I’m damn proud of it.”
Embarrassment over going to Eastern is something I find preposterous and will never be able to wrap my head around. If we weren’t your first choice, so what? If you had to weigh your options before choosing, good decision. If you have always been set on coming to Eastern, even better. Regardless of the path that lead you here, the campus beautiful welcomed you with open arms and a sense of belonging that you just can’t find many other places. To not be thankful of this acceptance, whether publicly or privately, is downright disrespectful.
Fostering school pride doesn’t end with simply talking about it, have to walk the walk and bleed maroon every day. Whether it be supporting our sports teams, joining clubs or just picking up trash dirtying up the scenery; anything and everything you do affects Eastern. It’s up to you to make that impact positive or negative.
Once you step onto campus as a freshman, you are no longer a Wildcat or a Cardinal or a Mongoose or whatever unsatisfactory mascot you once worshipped. You are now a Colonel, and you will remain a colonel till the day you die. That fact is not a binding contract; it is a privilege.
As a lifelong Colonel, campus is sacred ground. Thou shalt not bring any other university’s items to deface our campus beautiful. If you listen closely, you can hear Ruric Nevel Roark turning in his grave when a Morehead shirt is seen on campus. And if you don’t know who Ruric Nevel Roark is, you are part of the problem.
Next time you’re about to go out in public in that unflattering UK shirt, think for a moment about where you are and what you represent. Then do us all a favor and send that shirt to the Salvation Army. It’ll do much better there than here.