Kalamazoo, MI
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‘Spirit Fridays’ to Enhance Community on Campus

Kalamazoo College spirit-wear (Janelle Grant / The Index). Kalamazoo College spirit-wear (Janelle Grant / The Index).

Dana Jansma, Associate Dean of Students, and Debbie Thompson, Bookstore Director, drafted a proposal to Kalamazoo College’s Community Council Board to enact Spirit Fridays in hopes to inspire a sense of community on K’s campus.

Thompson has done Spirit Fridays by herself for a long time.

“It makes Friday’s easier,” Thompson said, an advocate of community building. “We’re all here for the same purpose…[I was looking for] anything that can bring us together.”

The Bookstore recognizes that some of the brand-compliant K gear can be expensive. To alleviate this, the Bookstore offered 30% off all K gear, which is a larger discount than the employee discount. If you missed the sale, Jansma and Thompson reminded The Index that the bookstore usually holds 20% off sales at the beginning and end of every quarter, that each incoming first-year receives a free t-shirt at orientation, and of the many opportunities there are to get a free K t-shirt through accessible campus events.

“It’s a very visual way for people to see school spirit, and how cool is it if a student walks into an office on Friday and everyone’s wearing K stuff,” Jansma said. “I mean, it makes you feel like we are proud to be here, too, and we like working here and being here.”

“We are a community,” Thompson added to end Jansma’s point.

“We wound up submitting the proposal [to the Community Council Board] on behalf of the administrative staff and the support staff because we’re the biggest group that has to have an office dress code,” Jansma said. “And, we did the survey and we got over 100 responses and 98% were in favor [of Spirit Friday] with great comments, too.”

Along with the survey’s data, the proposal explained why Spirit Fridays are a good idea. First, it is a simple and visual tradition to weave into the Kalamazoo College culture. Second, it sends a message that we all consider ourselves to be part of the Hornet community. Third, it would be a good morale boost for employees. Fourth, it’s optional, especially if it’s not appropriate for a certain day in the office or a student needs to dress up. Fifth, it costs the College nothing.

Both of the proposers would hope to bring students into the Spirit Friday tradition as well. “If you could get a couple hundred people walking around in K gear, I think that’d [sic] be awesome,” Thompson said.

“I don’t know if we will see the President walking around in a K t-shirt, but I’ll bet he wear a K tie!” Jansma said.

“It’s not just about wearing jeans all day, but it’s about something that creates community. And, we’ve both been on other campuses that have done this, but, it’s not something that gets announced everyday, but just something that gets weaved into the culture,” Jansma said.

“I’m excited about it, [Spirit Friday] is just something that I’ve been doing for…a long time,” Thompson said laughing. “Anything that can bring us together.”

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‘Spirit Fridays’ to Enhance Community on Campus