Spirit Week: Simpson’s Challenge
Written by Josh Bailey
Virtus tentamine gaudet. Hillsdale College is widely known for its high-minded pursuit of excellence. But there exists one week out of the school year when students rejoice in more than just a challenge and lose sleep over more than just their GPA. This is Spirit Week.
Spirit Week brings every major group on campus together for six days of competition. Teams from every corner of campus expend hours of their precious time and energy to show off team pride and compete for the grand trophy.
Every group on campus has its trademark, but probably the most unprecedented dedication to Spirit Week comes from Simpson Dormitory. Just as the fraternities and sororities bond over Greek Week, Simpson gels as a culture during homecoming week and has won the competition the past six years. This reputation for enthusiasm during Spirit Week is only matched by the residents’ dorm pride. Ask anyone about Spirit Week, and Simpson will inevitably come up.
In many ways Simpson is responsible for the spectacle that Spirit Week is today. According to Garret Holt, a former head RA in Simpson, “Homecoming just wasn’t a big deal” before Simpson first won the trophy. Back then, he pointed out, “teams like the Sewing Club and the local preschool won homecoming.”
During Holt’s freshman year, a random group of residents led by their RA decided to take the competition seriously and make a sincere effort to win. Although they did not win that year, it set a precedent for years to come. Holt’s sophomore year, he helped lead Simpson to its first homecoming victory. From there the competition escalated. Every year Simpson took its dedication to new levels, goading on others to challenge them.
“Upperclassmen poured into the freshmen showing how much they loved it,” Holt said. They bought into it wholeheartedly. The legacy of homecoming pride had been passed on.
One of the highlights of the week is a dance competition called Mock Rock. Eric Walker, another former head RA of Simpson, recalled how residents spent hours choreographing their dances late into the night. His favorite memories include dance moves clicking for the first time.
“Everyone just goes crazy!” he said, laughing. “It really brings guys together.”
Although students outside of Simpson sometimes get frustrated at the dorm’s domination, most recognize that it is simply a part of Simpson’s identity.
“Some people get mad and think Simpson has taken it too far,” observed Chris Pudenz, current head RA of Galloway Dorm, “but it is Simpson’s tradition. Galloway has its own traditions.”
This is not to say that Simpson goes unchallenged. Every year is a test of its residents’ strength. And this year, for the College’s one hundredth homecoming anniversary, every competitor brought the heat to Simpson. Two dorms—Galloway and Benzing—combined resources to compete as one team. Additionally, although for reasons other than beating Simpson, all three sororities on campus paired up for the first time in school history. Other communities such as Delta Tau Delta, Olds Dormitory, and Niedfelt Dormitory also brought dynamite performances throughout the week.
From the outset, Gallow-zing (i.e., Galloway and Benzing) led the pack after winning the banner competition. As the week progressed, the sororities pulled ahead. But at the very end, Simpson took the lead, winning Mock Rock and securing its trophy for the sixth consecutive year.
While Simpson may not continue to win homecoming each year, it will remain a cornerstone of the dorm and of the College. Not everyone will root on the winning streak, but strength will continue to rejoice in the challenge.
Josh Bailey, ’19, is a marketing major from the back roads of Iowa. A volunteer program leader, intramural athlete, and dedicated student, he can usually be found either busy with a project, sweating in the gym or buried in a book in the corner of the library. In his free time he enjoys adventurous shenanigans with the guys in his dorm.