Freedom of Expression? Only if it’s Related to UC Irvine

Most of us weren’t good enough to get into UCLA or UC Berkeley. Most of us had no shot at schools like Stanford University or Yale University. Some of us have boyfriends or girlfriends that attend those schools. Some of us grew up diehard fans of the University of Southern California or UCLA sports. I don’t care. Quit representing them on campus.
Take a stroll on Ring Road anytime between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and you have a roughly 50 percent chance of seeing someone wearing some sort of college apparel. Of that 50 percent only about 25-30 percent are wearing UC Irvine gear, which means at least 20-25 percent are wearing non-UCI college gear. That is egregious.
Now I understand that if you are a fan of the Golden State Warriors or the Arizona Cardinals, it is acceptable to wear their jerseys on campus. They are professional sports teams. No harm in that.
However for college, it is a completely different story. You attend this school; this school brings you your future. Sure, we don’t have the aura that surrounds richly traditional schools like Stanford or Yale, but there is plenty to be proud about as a UCI Anteater.
Yes, I said there is pride in being an Anteater. When I thought about going to college, I either wanted to go to a school with a really sick mascot like the Wolverines or the Spartans or a school with a really lame one. Mascots like the Bruins, Bears or Wildcats are just so simple and plain. Lame mascots are way cooler. There is a line between good-lame and bad-lame. Good-lame is the Anteater. The Anteater is unique, intriguing and hilarious. It is a ferocious beast that brings the living hell to its prey, which includes opponents in sports and ants. An example of a bad-lame is the Unicorns, which was one of the options when the student body took a vote in 1965 to choose a mascot for UCI. I would not want to be linked to the mystical creature of Lisa Frank label fame.
History and film can prove my point further. In our baseball team’s historic run to the College World Series in 2007, the Anteater took the nation by storm. UCI students were proud to finally see their school represented on ESPN and national news networks. UCI was not the only one engulfed in the craze. “‘Eater Nation” t-shirts were the hot item in Omaha, NB, the host of the College World Series, and around the nation for sports fans. The Cinderella story of our Anteater baseball team caught the nation by storm.
Aside from athletics, our university is a Cinderella story as well. In only 44 years, UCI has climbed to 44th in the most recent college rankings compiled by U.S. News & World Report and continues to rise. As of 2008, UCI is the fourth most competitive UC school to gain acceptance to and is ranked the 12th best public university. Thirty-eight of UCI’s graduate programs rank in the top 50 of their respective fields, of which 13 are ranked in the top 20. I could go on, but enough said.
Sure the city of Irvine isn’t the most exciting place to brag about and I firmly believe we would become even more competitive if we were UC Newport Beach, but we have to brag about our location. The best beaches are a bike ride away, and the happiest place on earth is a short drive up the 5 Freeway.
We also have the best weather. If it is cloudy and gloomy 45 miles away at home, it can be sunny and bright here in Irvine. I was in New York over winter break and temperatures dipped as low as 16 degrees. I did not appreciate the foreignness of wind chill until I stepped off the airplane and the warm 45-degree weather outside John Wayne Airport greeted me the day I arrived. There is plenty to be proud of and appreciate.
I won’t lie. I own USC, Tufts, Amherst and Arizona State t-shirts. However, I only wear them when I am not on campus. When I am on campus and off, I wear my UCI t-shirts with pride and dignity.
Imagine if President Obama wore a “France” or “Mexico” T-shirt at a press conference in the White House. It’s just not right.
I grew up a USC sports fan, and still consider myself one. However, USC has significantly taken a back seat to UCI sports and especially when the Anteaters and Trojans go head-to-head. There is nothing like the taste of victory when your direct college family conquers it.
I shake my head and cringe when I see my fellow Anteaters wearing non-UCI college apparel on campus. We are a part of making this university as big as the names of the universities you shamefully wear across your chests.
Our founding fathers would be rolling over in their graves if they saw the fruits of their labor performing such actions. But since we’re only 44 years old, our founding fathers are probably still alive, in which case they would be deeply ashamed of this t-shirt catastrophe.
Get your act together, and represent yourself and your school right.