Scanning the Homecoming crowd two weeks ago, I became disheartened. Why are all the Bennies wearing St. John’s shirts? Is this not their Homecoming, too? Why aren’t they wearing St. Ben’s shirts? Is this just some fashion trend, or are Bennies not proud of their school?
Seeking answers to these questions, I posed them to many of the CSB alumnae I encountered throughout the day.
But first I have breaking news! Attention: Saturday, September 29, 2012 was not St. Ben’s Homecoming. Repeat: It was NOT St. Ben’s Homecoming. Did you know that? It’s true. It was only St. John’s Homecoming. St. Ben’s doesn’t have a homecoming during the academic year. Instead, they have a “Reunion” during the summer. It was news to me, and apparently I’m not alone.
The rationale for CSB not being part of SJU’s homecoming is fodder for rich debate. But suffice it to say that although our schools have made great strides in working together, we still have a long way to go. The inconsistent manner with which our two schools work together, respect each other, and effuse pride for each other, has—and will continue—to harm them both.
The beauty of our sibling rivalry (incestuous as it is) is that it pushes us both towards greater success. But we must ensure that the support of one never means the decline of the other. Because the greater our strength individually, the greater our strength together. We succeed and fail as one.
Consequently, we must always be careful to show pride in our own school as well as the other. In this regard, a few responses by CSB alumnae about their St. John’s shirts were particularly troubling. One said, “I took most of my classes at St. John’s and spent most of my time on their campus, so I don’t have much connection to St. Ben’s.” Another said, “St. John’s has done so much for us that we owe them a lot.” (I’m not kidding.) And another said, “Now that I’m out in the work-world, I’m used to saying I went to St. John’s because not as many people have heard of St. Ben’s.” My ears wept with disappointment.
I typically think it’s awesome when Bennies show their support by wearing Johnnie gear. And more Johnnies should reciprocate, and attend Bennie sports, etc. So finally I realized that despite my initial concerns, perhaps those Bennies so proudly supporting St. John’s on Homecoming were showing us exactly how it’s done. It’s just that others need to follow their lead.
Because the real bottom line is that our pride in both schools must be sincere and clear for all to see. If you only show pride in one school, then you’re hurting both schools. And you’re hurting both schools when you only have homecoming for one school.
Bob is an assistant professor in the accounting and finance department, and a Johnnie alum.