Springfest 2018 is fast approaching, and it’s impossible to talk about the highly anticipated event without mentioning last year’s debacle with rap group Migos. A result of too many attendees, the unexpected shutdown shook the campus — headliner Rae Sremmurd never even took stage. I vividly remember watching the night unfold through my Snapchat feed which was flooded with stories of students scrambling to find alternative plans for the night. At the time, I wasn’t even a USC student and did not attend the event for myself.
Instead, I was taking a break from LA Hacks at a nearby Roscoe’s with a friend at USC when he exclaimed, “Oh sh-t! Migos just got shut down!” We returned to campus to work on our project, and I overheard people talking with my friends about it. Energized by their enthusiasm, I deliberately began to overinflate my personal connection to it. Over the next few weeks, I created a Spotify playlist titled “Springfest” that was filled with Migos and Rae Sremmurd songs (and I haven’t updated it since). When I visited USC a month later, I noted that a Sigma Phi Delta party coincidentally shut down when the DJ played a Migos song, and I took pride in making the connection. I even indirectly mentioned Springfest in a Daily Nexus article, needlessly bragging to my then school UCSB about my familiarity with the event.
This wasn’t the first or only time I’ve displayed this kind of “school spirit,” though. When I buy groceries at USC Village, I flaunt my “Festival of Books” bag instead of bringing the new USC-branded reusable Trader Joe’s bag to show that I attended the event at USC last year. I remember visiting the campus when the “Finger Fountain” was still here and having a Big Alaska ice cream bar from EVK. I consider one of my T-shirts to be emblematic of my school pride because it was doused in blue paint at a party on Menlo Ave.
I’ve had this “I’m so cool because I knew USC when I didn’t go there” mentality for two and a half years now, and I understand why it would annoy others. It’s a hollow expression of posturing — essentially when people think they know more about a topic than they actually do and shove it in other’s faces. Despite the irritating mentality I’ve held the past few years, there is a reason behind this persona.
Throughout the college application season, I was unsure where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life. During a trip to Los Angeles, however, I spontaneously contacted two former high school peers who were about to start their freshman years at USC. This unexpectedly sparked hangouts at home and visits to campus, during which they exposed me to the ins and outs of student life and facts about the school. With each meetup, my interest in attending USC and passion for the school grew stronger. Realistically, USC seemed almost as unlikely to accept me as UC Berkeley or Harvard, but the developing friendships I’d made sparked an interest so immense that the odds didn’t matter to me.
After my freshman year application and appeal were both rejected, all seemed lost. However, hope reignited after I heard that two other friends were transferring to USC for their sophomore year. While I was in this state of limbo, awaiting my chance to follow their footsteps, I took every possible opportunity to visit the University so I had as many chances to soak in the campus atmosphere as possible. Whenever I was in Los Angeles, the experiences I valued most were the unplanned visits to USC that came with it (as well as a night spent at The Lorenzo). Truly, I loved every single minute spent on campus, even when I was doing nothing, because all that mattered was that I was spending time there.
My passion for USC and all the knowledge I acquired were to prove that I was a worthy student. None of my family members were alumni, so I wanted to prove to others (and more importantly, myself) that I truly cared about this school. To make up for what I perceived to be disadvantages elsewhere, I wanted to show that I was full of energy and love for the school. Looking back, I forced myself to love this University more, but for good reason. The community I developed because of my growing interest made me feel included when I wasn’t an actual student.
But now, I am officially a student. And for me to think that I could be a Trojan simply based on the few trivialities I knew about the University, such as what happened at Springfest last year, is pitiful in retrospect. When I walk past Dean’s List or El Huero, I can reminisce about the good times I had on campus as a non-student, but those times weren’t what made me a Trojan. I’m grateful that many new experiences as a student at this school intensified my desire to attend it in the first place. However, as proud as I should be for these personal reasons, it does not give me the right to excessively brag about knowing said attributes before I was officially a Trojan. I should look forward to the memories I will make during my time here instead of obsessively looking back on those I created before becoming a student. I’ve made it in, now, and that’s all that matters.
Ryan Song is a sophomore majoring in business administration. His column, “At Song Last,” runs every other Thursday.