At Sargent, band gears up for Saturday

Christina Salter

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When about 45 members of the band marched into Sargent dining hall Thursday night to play the fight song, students eating dinner looked confused at first.

Then they started clapping and joining in with the band’s performance, one of five this week at locations across campus in an effort to build enthusiasm for the football team’s 5-0 start.

In between songs, drum line member Rick Oleszczuk encouraged students to come to the football game on Saturday at Ryan Field, dressed in purple.

“Get there early, bring all your friends and cheer loudly,” the McCormick senior said. “And if you all wear purple, we’ll cover Ryan Field in a purple haze.”

McCormick senior Dan Desmond said he was one of a few marching band members who came up with the idea to increase school spirit this season after watching the win against Iowa.

The band’s dining hall takeover pumped students up for the game, said Weinberg freshman Will Chang.

“We’re going to go anyway, but it makes it that much more exciting,” he said.

The band started using the phrase “purple haze” to describe what they want to see filling the stadium at every home game. Along with the surprise performances around campus, band members advertised the idea through a Facebook group and by handing out flyers.

They are also trying to get fans from Chicago to come to Evanston for the game.

“We as a band are really spirited, and we want the whole stadium to be full of people wearing purple,” Desmond said.

Their efforts attracted the attention of One Northwestern, an Associated Student Government committee devoted to increasing school spirit. One Northwestern chairwoman Claire Lew said the committee’s first task is backing the band’s efforts by funding 1,500 “purple haze” T-shirts that will be passed out to fans at NU’s homecoming game on Oct. 18.

Lew, a SESP sophomore, said One Northwestern is still in the early stages of planning, but hopes to hold campus events beginning in November and running through February. Committee members are currently meeting with student groups to get their input and are looking for funding. Their goal is to collaborate with other groups on campus to encourage students to think about what defines the “common NU experience,” she said.

“I absolutely love this school and I’m very aware that a lot of people don’t feel completely that way,” Lew said. “It’s something I want to share and I want people to feel what I get to feel.”

Both Lew and the band members pushing “purple haze” said they’ve had a positive response to their efforts. But the true test is how full the stadium will be tomorrow.

“I’d like to walk in that stadium and see a student section that’s absolutely packed with everyone wearing purple and everyone going nuts,” Oleszczuk said. “Just imagine a football player walking out to that kind of atmosphere, where the whole section is just ready to explode.”