While there is never a lack of athletic events on Swarthmore’s campus, there is often a disappointing lack of attendance. Fortunately, Bella Levine ’18 and Clare Perez ’18, two student-athletes who have experienced this lack of support firsthand, have taken the initiative to revitalize Swarthmore’s school spirit with the inauguration of Pep Club.
According to Levine, the main purpose of Pep Club is to, “build community on campus, encourage everyone to attend different types of events, support other people besides your friends, and to take advantage of all the different interests that Swarthmore students have.”
Pep Club operates primarily through social media, where they provide their nearly 300 members with a weekly event report. In addition to providing members with general information like location and event times, Pep Club promotes event attendance by hosting pep rallies prior to sponsored events. Tailgating, which encourages attendance by providing good food, beverages, and music, has been Pep Club’s main strategy for congregating students and creating a hyped-up atmosphere for sponsored events. To date, Pep Club has sponsored two tailgates – one for men’s soccer and one for women’s soccer – as well as a viewing party, where fans met in a Kohlberg classroom to watch men’s soccer face off against Johns Hopkins in their final playoff game.
Despite focusing solely on athletic events thus far, Pep Club plans on branching out beyond the athletic community in the future. Their next planned event is a tailgate for Rhythm N Motion, one of Swarthmore’s dance groups, which will occur on December 11th. They also plan on hosting more independent events, such as a dodgeball tournament later this year. Bridging the gap between the athletic and non-athletic community is one of Pep Club’s main focuses, especially in a small school where a truly inclusive and supportive student body cannot be sustained unless all interests are appreciated equally. While this is not an easy goal to aspire to, the community appears to be responding positively to Pep Club’s efforts.
“There are a lot of people who really care about the things they’re involved in and they want more people to come. We want to promote these events and people who have talked to me about that are excited,” said Kevin Murphy ’19, one of the club’s core leaders.
Olivia Leventhal ’18, a player on the women’s volleyball team, echoed this excitement. “I think it’s a good way to get different groups on campus to support one another. A lot of different programs struggle to gain support at events, and Pep Club has helped increase student involvement.”
Although Pep Club has enjoyed moderate success thus far, its leaders believe that it must be chartered by the school’s administration in order to maximize its potential. Once it is chartered, which will be determined by the end of this week, Pep Club will have a set budget rather than having to request money for each individual event.
“This will allow us to throw something together last minute, which we really wouldn’t be able to do the way the system works now,” said Murphy. In addition to flexible funding, chartering will make it easier for Pep Club to work with other campus groups like the Office of Student Engagement, which will help promote events more extensively and provide Pep Club with items to raffle off and incentivize attendance.
However, regardless of whether or not they are chartered, Pep Club will continue its efforts to promote appreciation for the many diverse efforts of Swarthmore’s student body. Increased attendances at sporting events this fall indicate that their efforts are paying off.
In regards to this increased attendance, Levine remarked, “It’s been huge. I don’t know if it’s because of us, but we hope that we’re making a difference.” While the source of the suddenly active fan base may be unclear, Pep Club’s efforts are a welcome change to our historically underwhelming school spirit.