Students returning to campus from Thanksgiving break came home to see the USF water tower illuminated green for the Bulls’ historic win over Miami on Saturday. The tradition of lighting the tower is one of the University’s most recognizable, but it displays an obvious bias toward football as USF’s most coveted sport.
Nainan Desai, assistant director of USF’s Physical Plant, said the tradition started in early 2008, when then-Vice President Joe Eagan gave the proverbial green light to install green lights around the tower. By the fall, 16 green lenses were ordered to go over the existing lights and transform the white water tower into a shining beacon of school spirit.
Desai said in an e-mail that the lights are left on for two days after a win for sufficient exposure and can be switched on and off through an Internet-based application operated by an “authorized, on-call alarm technician from the Physical Plant.”
If the lights are so easy to switch on and off and there is no cost difference between running them with or without the lenses since the lights are on every night anyway, why not illuminate the tower green for all USF wins – not just football?
If football is USF’s most popular sport, then fans will not need such a grandiose symbol to let them know the team has won. By illuminating it for all wins, students might see the green water tower and seek to find out which team was victorious, which could result in an increased interest in other sports.
Secondly, the water tower simply looks much better green. It adds an aura to the campus that would be much appreciated if it could be glimpsed more than a few nights in the fall.
An alternative to modifying this tradition would be to add traditions that celebrate wins in different sports depending on which part of campus was lit up. If either of our basketball teams won, we could light up the roof the Sun Dome. Green is a much better color than the current shade of dirty concrete.
It is mind-bending to think of how much money and resources are poured into the football team. It’s safe to assume that it gets more attention than any of USF’s other sports, some of which are more successful than the football team. I love football just as much as the next guy, but this tradition should be expanded to shed light on all of USF athletics, not just one team.
Joe Polito is a junior majoring in mass communications.