Seeing RED

Last Friday I was walking around campus showing a close friend of mine this great place we call the University of Houston. What better day to give a friend a tour, what with it being Cougar Red Friday and the day after our 73-17 rout of Tulane. On that lazy Friday afternoon, however, I began to notice an annoying little trend that instantly made me ashamed, not for myself or my friend, but for my school.

Burnt orange. Maroon. Purple and gold. It became difficult for me to describe UH when right next to Cougar Village a group of students were playing football while half of them wore the wrong college’s colors. It was hard to show off that famous Cougar Pride when, in a stroke of absolutely terrible timing, there were more people on campus wearing the colors of other universities.

It reminded me of College Pride Day back during homecoming week in high school where you would wear the gear of whatever university you were so hopeful in getting into. The biggest difference between then and now, and to me the greatest problem, is that while you were not specifically associated with any college back in high school, by attending the University of Houston, you are in fact not a Longhorn, Aggie, Red Raider or Tiger.

You are a Cougar, and by wearing another university’s apparel you are not only saying that this school is not worth wearing the appropriate color for on the appropriate day, you are saying that UH itself isn’t nearly as important as these other schools.

Let’s get a few things straight first. As much as it pains me to say it, I will begrudgingly acknowledge that UT, A&M, Tech and LSU are all-in-all fine universities and I have several friends attending each. This is not to stake a case that UH is superior in any way to these universities; it is to establish that this blatant disregard for the University itself makes UH look inferior to anyone looking at our university.

What kind of Tier One institution is worth being proud of if we have to constantly remind and berate our peers to come to games, cheer on our teams, and yes, wear red on a Cougar Red Friday? I understand there are logistical issues: lack of time to attend games, lack of money to spend on red clothing (although coming to any number of the free student events throughout the year will have to net you at least one red T-shirt), and of course laundry.

There’s absolutely nothing I can say that could force anyone to wear red. That would be insane and defeat the purpose of pride. Pride empowers the student body to support their campus and theirs alone. As a Tier One institution, UH has plenty to be proud of. We’re just as good as A&M and UT now, so why is it that our students can’t be a bit more like those universities when it comes to showing school pride? I’ve never heard of any self-respecting Aggie wearing a UT shirt on campus and likewise never heard of any proud Longhorn throwing on an Aggie jacket before heading off to class.

By attending the University of Houston, you are voluntarily entering a campus that is not UT, A&M, Texas Tech, LSU, or anything other than UH. You acknowledge that you are in one way or another, and for better or worse, a part of the Houston Cougar community. Unless you had your heart absolutely set on some other college that you couldn’t get into and had stocked up solely on their gear before you got the bad news — to which I offer the go-to break-up consolation phrase, “You were too good for them anyway” — there shouldn’t be any reason that you absolutely need to wear your Texas Tech sweatpants to class on  a Cougar Red Friday.

Remember, it’s not Cougar Burnt Orange Friday. It’s not Cougar Maroon Friday. It’s Cougar Red Friday, and if you decide not to wear red, don’t insult your campus by wearing the colors of another university. So on Friday’s, always remember that the preferred color will always be red.

James Wang is a history freshman and may be reached at [email protected].


  • Great work from a Freshmen! Now if only this could be posted around campus as a reminder of how important Cougar Red Friday is for our University.

  • Great points! Much more diplomatic than I was whenever I was an undergrad and saw people wearing other school's merchandise. I attribute it as being disrespectful. No one has forced you to come to UH, and not that you've been admitted (it's a reciprocal relationship, not a right), i believe students should be respectful of THEIR university and not wear other school's merchandise on campus.

    If you truly feel the need to wear another school's merchandise do it elsewhere. The author is correct is stating that no one can make you do anything, but keep that crap off of campus!

    Go Coogs!
    Amir '08

  • Reading this article made me realize that things always change after you leave. I remember that it was rare to see another school's colors, granted I practically lived in the engineering building, I still saw my fair share of red every single day. In my five years at UH, I accumulated 30-some red shirts, and I didn't even attend all the home football games, UH literally throws red shirts at you. I find it hard to believe that people don't have a single red shirt.

  • When I got to UH as a freshman, I was given a crash-course on things to do and not do at UH, one was not to wear another school's colors. Now, UH students won't say any mean comments to your face like I've seen on other campuses, but you know they thought it.
    I didn't have the guts to wear any A&M shirts I acquired from my brother, as we both expected me to follow him to A&M. But at home, I wear maroon when A&M plays, and I wear orange when Tennessee plays, because by association, I'm obligated to. I mean, I'm all up for school spirit, even if you didn't go to UH, but at least respect the UH campus by not wear your school's colors. That doesn't mean you have to wear red, just don't wear another school's attire.

    • Speaking for myself, I actually prefer the students who are open about their school preferences. I don't see how it's any better to wear school shirts at school and then secretly wear A&M or Tennessee at home.

  • The issue lies at hand of what UH used to be. A commuter school or "Cougar High" as it was once referred to as. People came to UH to transfer to UT or A&M after their first year. We still have some of that mentality. The other side of it is the Graduate student who got the undergrad at another school and then transferred to UH. They will continue to support both schools. It's a hard fight, but one that must continue to be fought. The tradition of trade days should continue…bring us your shirt from another college and we'll give you a UH shirt.

  • Another point worth noting is that when a corporate recruiter walks across campus on his/her way to interview UH students and sees all the shirts from other schools, its not hard to imaging them thinking, "Wow, if the students don't take pride in being here, why I am wasting my time here?"

  • abso-freakin-lutely! couldn't have said it better myself! it's so disappointing to see that nothing has really changed since i was first admitted into UH in 2003. it was especially sad to see people wearing the wrong colors in the music school, where the freakin SPIRIT OF HOUSTON COUGAR MARCHING BAND practically lives! 🙁 i'm only on campus on saturdays for one class, but i always wear cougar red or a shirt that's completely unrelated to any school.

  • I do not wear other schools shirts, but I also do not wear red most of the time. I have maybe 4 or 5 red shirts or so, but it's hard to keep track of them and keep them handy to wear every day.

    I would wear more RED shirts if nicer ones were easier to come by. Your choices are generally go to an event and get a red shirt that sometimes doesn't even say University of Houston or have Shasta on it. I don't like football or UT or A&M and I don't buy their clothing. However, I've gotten nice UT shirts for free (that I don't wear) randomly. You know, shirts that actually have the school's name and/or mascot clearly written on them.

    The other option is going to the book store (where all items are overpriced) and get ripped off (theres no better way to put it) for a T-shirt that they sell for 18$ that would only sell for 5-8$ for any other school. The only time I would ever pay 18$ for a t-shirt in this economy is if it is made of the softer higher thread count cotton, or it has a really nice/complicated graphic screened on it, which you generally can't even find at the book store for 25$.

    Did you know that you can buy Texas Tech, A&M, UT, and even LSU shirts at a lot HEB locations? I understand these are big schools with highly regarded sports teams, but come on! Why can't I buy a University of Houston shirts at least at the local HEB stores? It's a Texas university, it's a Texas grocery store, of the 4 grocery stores that are near the campus, I think two of them are HEB. I know the Randall's near my house sells High School T-shirts, why can't the Randalls in midtown houston sell UH shirts? You can sometimes find UH shirts at Academy, but sometimes you can't.

    Maybe if the students or even the school wrote local businesses and/or their distributors to carry more of the clothing to support the local University, more people would buy and wear the clothing. You know what you almost never see in Houston? Some guy walking down the street wearing a UH hat or T-shirt. You know what you see all the time? Folks wearing UT and LSU stuff.

  • Interesting to see so many here claiming that there's been a shift toward this.

    It has been a steady complaint about the school for some time.

    One wonder if it's not just reflective of where people transferred from, but what their childhood allegiances are. For some I think those shirts are like wearing a pro shirt. Perhaps, if The H stays on it's current trajectory, you will see your children walking around Lorman in a Shasta shirt.


  • Ahhh too funny. Did anyone see the ESPN thing going on? Forget the shirt thing, I think non-UH signs outnumbered UH signs in the audience.

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