As performances, motivational speeches, slam poetry and chants filled the brisk Thursday night, a few hundred students gathered on the Diag for Maize Night Madness, an event geared toward increasing school spirit and morale before the Michigan football team faces Michigan State this weekend in East Lansing.
LSA senior John Borger, who helped organize the event along with the campus group Beat OSU, said the pep rally was designed to highlight the hard work of University students and what the school has to offer, including the work of athletes and student groups.
“Whether it’s on a football field or in the classroom or in a research lab or on the stage, all these performers are doing incredible things,” Borger said. “We’re not the number one public institution because of the football team. We’re not the number one public institution because of any one team, or any one classroom. It’s the whole University.”
Maize Night Madness included performances from several dance groups and appearances by the football, field hockey and men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as two student poets and a variety of other groups.
LSA freshman Helen Joa said she attended the event after she heard about it online and from posters around campus.
“There was a lot of hype surrounding it so I wanted to see what it was all about,” Joa said. “I really liked all the different groups that performed the dances. I thought that was really cool. I didn’t know about some of the clubs that are here so it was cool to get to learn more about them.”
Borger said the rally was held Thursday to celebrate the upcoming football game against Michigan State and to kick off the basketball and hockey seasons. Organizers hosted a similar event last year, Maize Out, Lights On, before Michigan played against Notre Dame.
“We got kind of lucky with the timing with there being a dip in school spirit so we can help pick that up,” Borger said. “It’s still early in the semester so kids can still get involved and raise that morale and get them excited to be at Michigan. It’s still a time where you can jump into a new organization. You can see someone on stage and say, ‘I want to do that.’ ”
Though the event was focused in part on Michigan’s upcoming game against Michigan State and included a speech from Michigan football coach Brady Hoke, the Athletic Department has been subject to vocal criticism in recent weeks.
Many students railed against Hoke for putting sophomore quarterback Shane Morris back in Michigan’s Sept. 27 football game against Minnesota after he sustained a “probable, mild concussion,” and later against Athletic Department officials for failing to provide adequate communication about the incident.
Borger said he hopes the rally will take place again next year and continue increasing morale and pride at the University.
“We’ve been working so hard just for tonight so we always hope someone will carry it forward,” Borger said. “We felt that this year was particularly important to get people to step up and increase University morale and take pride to be here. Yesterday, the block ‘M’ got painted green, and we can’t let that happen. Not here, not at my University.”
Editor’s Note: The Michigan Daily was a co-sponsor of this event.