“Okay, don’t move!” I urged the Rice student who stood stock-still before me. I drew the blue tipped brush in precise strokes along her face, trying to keep my hand from shaking. After a few more dips in paint and gentle, well-placed lines (I hope!), my canvas stepped away and examined her face in the reflection of her phone. “It’s beautiful! How did you do that?”
I smiled sheepishly and moved on to the next willing student, ready to paint another one of our iconic Old English ‘R’s’. The reason I was painting it all over the faces of students (along with owls and blue and gray stripes) was because we were having the first home football game of the season!
Only hours before, some of my fellow Hanszenites and I decided that we would bring paint and brushes outside and message our college about the opportunity to be painted up for the game. Vice President Joe Biden spoke that afternoon about the White House Cancer Moonshot Initiative, and while it was an amazing event, I wondered if students would be too tired afterwards to go to the game as well. Even so, my Spirit committee members and I set up outside and waited. For a while no one showed.
And then suddenly we had more people wanting to be painted than we had hands for!
As I moved from person to person applying paint, I was struck by how much spirit and a common goal brought people together. In those moments, we weren’t Hanszenites throwing an event; we were Rice students coming out to support the school we love. Even other colleges came to participate in the fun (shout out to McMurtry!). The students were so excited to display school pride, and I was glad to be a part of it. After everyone had the designs they wanted, we made our way to the stadium and the sense of community that I felt grew even more. I passed by people that I’d never spoken to or even seen before, but I’d notice that familiar Rice ‘R’ on their clothes or face and feel a connection that goes past just being students at the same school. That feeling is something I think is so integral and unique to Rice and part of the reason we’re such a happy student body.
Incidentally, this game had more fans than the largest turnout in the last ten years, and I’m not saying our paint-up event was wholly responsible, but…it couldn’t have hurt.