The latest initiative of the Honor Advisory Council is the sportsmanship pledge, a three-pronged statement aimed at dealing with the behavior of fans during football games. The cause: unruly fan behavior at the Boston College game last fall.
“Fans – mostly from Tech – threw trash and belongings onto the field, causing widespread pandemonium and the interruption of the game,” said Michael Warwick, chair of the HAC and third-year Management major. “It was a huge embarrassment to the Georgia Tech community precisely because we value our Honor Code so much.”
This newest proposed supplement to Tech’s Honor Code is the result of a partnership between the Student Government Association (SGA), the Athletic Association, and the Honor Advisory Council, a group of undergraduate and graduate students who work to raise honor awareness around the Tech community.
The sportsmanship pledge is still in its formative stages but consists of three main points: the importance of honoring the commitments of student athletes, the need to respect guests (students, officials, and alumni from other schools) to the Tech community, and the primacy of upholding the ideals for which Tech stands.
“This pledge has been a long time in the making,” Warwick said. “Of course, there has been bad fan behavior before, but the Boston College game marked the worst point, the point at which we decided that something had to be done.”
In that game, fans repeatedly threw trash onto the field and at the opposing players and cheerleaders, despite the referees requesting on five separate occasions for them to stop.
The following Monday, Boston College’s student newspaper, Heights, ran a piece stating that “the inappropriate actions coming from the [Tech] stands did not occur spontaneously; rather, such behavior is largely ingrained in the fan culture of the school.” Whether this sort of reputation precedes Tech or it is created after individual incidents like this, proponents of the sportsmanship pledge hope it will cause people to change their minds.
“Our student athletes were very impressed by the courtesy and warm welcome at Notre Dame when our team was playing them,” said Jennifer Pierce, director of Promotions and Events for the Athletic Association. “We want teams from other schools who come here to feel the same way about our standards.”
The HAC and the AA are looking to publicize the sportsmanship pledge by putting it up on major buildings, displaying it on electronic billboards at football games and other sporting events, and possibly distributing copies to incoming freshman at FASET in the future.
In a few years, the HAC hopes that the sportsmanship pledge will be so far embedded in the Tech community that everyone at a sporting event will say it before the commencement of the game. However, the current focus is on publicizing the pledge, which emphasizes respect without taking away from the fan experience.
“The pledge will probably make more students aware of an expected code of behavior,” said Stuart Terrett, a fourth-year Chemistry major. “In a few years we may hope to see a substantial improvement in fan behavior.”
“Athletic events are an important way of representing Georgia Tech to the outside community,” Warwick said. “That’s why we need to promote good sportsmanship.”
The complete text of the Honor Code can be found on the website of the Honor Advisory Council at www.honor.gatech.edu