TU’s recent world record for the largest human letter could have been a fun event for students and faculty to rally around, but it fell flat for a number of reasons, the most notable being that a fair amount of students were actually turned away from participating in the event.
Students who showed up after 12:25 pm were greeted with an announcement that there were no world record t-shirts left, and furthermore, that anyone without a t-shirt was not allowed to participate.
This would have made sense (after all, it’s often difficult to predict the number of t-shirts or amount of food you’ll need for an event) except for a later announcement that declared TU had broken the record with 1,156 participants. This number was not even 100 more than the 1,080 required to break the previous record. There could have been a capacity for far more students to join in on the fun.
Sophomore Jennifer Shelton, one of the students who was unable to participate in the world record, felt excluded. Shelton said, “I went out of my way to go over there and then didn’t get a shirt, which was fine. But then they wouldn’t even let us in the picture.”
When asked how she felt about the event as a whole, she lamented that “I think it would have been cooler if we’d have allowed as many students participate as possible, but then they wouldn’t let people in so it was sort of dumb. It was like, I tried to be spirited and you wouldn’t let me!”
Sophomore Jaime Nuñez was “not that disappointed,” that he didn’t get to participate. He continued, “I am glad we broke the record as a school. I just wish the school had bought more shirts so that we could have broken the record by even more.”
I commend the event as an attempt to bolster school spirit and bring TU students and faculty together. We could definitely use a little more enthusiasm at this school and a world record seems like the perfect goofy, exciting event to capture people’s interest. Additionally, I sympathize with the event planners because I know how difficult it is to predict turnout to an event like this.
That said, the very small allowance of about 70 extra shirts seems to indicate a deliberate unwillingness to allow as many students as possible to participate and makes the record seem like a shallow gesture on the part of the university.
Students have expressed annoyance over the fact that the world record isn’t likely to stand long, making it seem like a pointless endeavor.
Others have lamented the fact that the event was held right in the middle of the day, which was very helpful in allowing faculty to participate but made it difficult for students with back-to-back classes to be present.
I love that the university is beginning to advertise more events which are intended to bring the TU community together. I’m excited to see this effort in things such as tailgating and homecoming festivities. With that said, those events need to be well executed to ensure continued and increasing student interest.
Rather than a mediocre spirit event which ended up excluding students, I (and other TU students) would have loved to see a rallying event around which the TU community could have gathered. If the university wants to bolster student participation and school spirit, they need to put 100 percent effort into the events that are offered. Turning students away isn’t conducive to making them feel like they’re part of a spirited community.