New Olé Program Prompts Student Spirit

The University of San Diego has earned an excellent reputation for many things: a scenic campus, great on-campus dining, and a competitive education. Unfortunately, school spirit is typically not included among this list.

Year after year, the university tries to boost campus involvement, persuading students to attend school-sanctioned events, including sporting events, film screenings, and lectures. While some students have risen to the occasion, for the most part, school spirit and involvement still remain low on campus.

This year, the university has introduced a new program in the hopes of increasing student attendance at various events around campus. The new program, dubbed “Our Lived Experience,” or “Olé” for short, rewards students for attending certain events.

The concept is simple: the school releases a list of Olé approved events, and students check in with their student ID to gain points. Then, using those points, students may enter online drawings to win prizes. These prices include items such as coffee with President Harris, free intramural membership, or priority registration for student housing.

Associated Students President TJ Hodges is very hopeful the new initiative will foster more involvement here on campus.

“I am thrilled that initiative was taken to introduce the Olé program,” Hodges said. “It serves as another way to encourage us to engage as a community and get something more out of our time at USD.”

The Olé program was brought about by Margaret Leary, Assistant Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Programs. The program primarily aims to foster community involvement,  encourage students to discover various opportunities at school, and help students explore their social identities. Leary is hopeful that the new program will cater to these values and encourage student involvement across campus.

“We met with a group of students to help us come up with the concept, and we selected the name Olé because these students talked about the variety of ways to show Torero spirit,” Leary said.  “Attending athletic or other events is one way [to show school spirit], but [the students] talked about doing undergraduate research or community engagement […] as ways to show their Torero spirit as well. “Our Lived Experience” speaks to this in a way that’s inclusive of the myriad ways that different students engage in the USD community.”

The first drawing was held on Sept. 15, and Lauren Hatton was announced as the winner. Subsequent drawings will happen as the semester goes on. Upcoming raffles include prizes such as campus cash cards, behind the scenes tours of the Jenny Craig Pavilion and Fowler Park, and a morning walk with President Harris.

The Olé program is unique because it encourages participation in a variety of events, instead of just focusing on sporting events or Torero Program Board activities, like many past attempts to promote campus involvement have. While attending those types of events is still encouraged, the Olé program is more diverse in the types of events that earn points.

Upcoming events include exploring Balboa Park, attending an LGBTQ student experience open discussion, serving dinner at Rachel’s Night Shelter for homeless women with University Ministry, bird watching in Tecolote Canyon with Outdoor Adventures, Salsa dancing, and attending a Constitution Day lecture.

Senior Noah Thomas stated  that he thinks the program is a step in the right direction.

“I think it’s a great idea to reward students for attending school events,” Thomas said. “It really promotes involvement on campus and yields great prizes that will benefit students. Personally, I’d love to meet with President Harris over a cup of coffee.”

This new attempt at getting students to participate in school events is a unique approach. Although it’s too early to tell the lasting impacts of the program, for now it seems to be generating buzz and accomplishing its goal of boosting student involvement. Hopefully the program is a step in the right direction, and school spirit will soon be counted among USD’s reputable qualities.

Written by Dani DeVries, Opinion Editor