Gold is the new purple

By Sydney Bucholtz

Features Contributor

Whether embarking at a new college as an incoming freshman or a transfer student, it is interesting to note how each university somewhat uses mutual loathing of a respective rival as a tool to foster unity among students. Being a sophomore transfer student, I had the opportunity to observe this approach, not only at the Canisius College New Student Orientation, but also at the new student events held by my previous college, Niagara University.  As a result of attending a college and then transferring to its rival school, I’ve been provided with a pretty unique first-hand grasp of each extreme in the “Canisius vs. Niagara” spectrum.

When the time came for me to begin acclimating myself with the other incoming Niagara University freshmen, there was something about undisputed school pride at the expense of a rival that really got the people going.  I remember standing in the Niagara University Kiernan Center and clutching my purple orientation folder, which indicated that I was a theatre performance and chemistry dual major (…that is not a typo).  They enjoy purple a lot there, and so my timid tour group was surrounded by purple balloons, purple tables, and the occasional purple person running or galloping through the gymnasium.  The tour guide was excitedly describing the various sports teams and clubs offered through the university, all while referencing the various banners hung up on the walls, until she transitioned into her next topic by telling us that Niagara’s main rival was Canisius College. At that point, I specifically recall the voice of a middle-aged man exhibiting a subdued, yet audible, “boo” at the mention of Canisius, followed by socially-relieved chuckling from a few males in the group.  

Although the tour, orientation weekend, and soon, freshman year, ended up being positive experiences that refuted my own initial worrisome thoughts about college, people are not joking at all when they say that “you know when you know”, in regards to choosing the “right” university.  Granted, I had opportunities to (essentially) move out of my house for an entire year, involve myself in theatrical productions, meet a class-worth of memorable individuals and get my own P.O. Box.  However, after the first semester, I felt the need to grow where I was no longer able to at full capacity; I wanted to explore new majors not offered by the university at the time, as well as venture out of myself in more than what I was currently involved in.  I began to understand that although the framework of the school was technically what I set out to find, and although the school was the “right” fit for a number of my friends, I was personally not going to develop upon my whole person by attending Niagara University.

By April of 2015 during the spring semester of my freshman year, I found myself walking toward a very red Lyons Hall, through the swarms of Canisius students returning from their spring breaks.  After finding the admissions office and introducing myself, I was greeted with a combination of “ooh”-ing, but also celebratory cheers when those in the office learned that I was a potential transfer from Niagara.  This pattern of greeting continued from others that I visited with as my tour progressed throughout the day, but when I returned to the admissions office after the tour ended, there was complete and unanimous triumph when I informed those who I met earlier of my definite plans to apply and transfer to Canisius.

The first few weeks of life as a Golden Griffin was almost like looking through the other side of a two-way mirror.  I immediately attended the infamous Canisius Bonfire that I had seen mentioned by a high school friend who was attending Canisius only the year before.  When I handed over a purple t-shirt from my freshman year at Niagara for the gold shirts being given in exchange, I didn’t feel too bad about it, as it was a symbol of my newfound home and allegiance.  

As a result of my clashing college choices, I also found myself noticing what seemed to be way too many parallels between the two institutions, from the similar number of enrolled undergraduate students (2,868 at Canisius and 3,176 at Niagara), to the focused religious practices of the two, to the fact that each campus makes quite the wind tunnel during storms, and while Canisius has “Griff Fest,” Niagara has a similar end of the year celebration called “Ridge Fest.”  Also, regardless of the arguable improbability of the purple pigment on the Niagara University logo (a.k.a. #EaglesArentPurple), both schools are significantly into their birds.  

Despite the fact that a concerning number of my friends from Niagara laughingly told me to “Be safe at Canisius,” I’ve always felt incredibly secure and protected since my first step on campus.  In fact, probably the most predominant difference about the two colleges I’ve attended is the overall sense of community, warmth, and welcoming atmosphere. I lived in Seton Hall, a Niagara University dorm building, for an entire year, but I somehow feel more at home and present as a Canisius commuter who drives to campus every day from Elma, New York.

It is my second semester here, and I am a happily declared journalism and psychology dual major with a minor in theatre.  I am involved in the Chorale, Little Theatre, Colleges Against Cancer, CrescenDONT’s, and now writing for The Griffin.  While the former is a rather lengthy list, I really wouldn’t have it any other way.  I can finally say that I am doing all that I want to do and have a passion for here at Canisius, as well as can wholeheartedly confirm that eagles are indeed not purple.  

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