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Sunday, December 6, 2020

Columns

Cougars on the come-up


File photo | The Daily Cougar

Drive up to campus and head down University Drive toward the E. Cullen Building, and you’ll see that UH is No. 1. Go into one of professor Simon Bott’s introduction to chemistry lectures, or listen to one of UH President and Chancellor Renu Khator’s speeches, and you’ll hear that UH is No. 1. Spend a night in the stands at Robertson Stadium, or Reliant Stadium if you were at the game Saturday, and once your ears stop ringing after the Coog Crew and Bleacher Creatures finish trying to outshout one another, then you’ll feel that UH is No. 1.

But the reality isn’t as pretty. Recently, we’ve dealt with a spree of robberies, recurring parking problems and an incredibly disappointing football season. The sun pounds down on us day after day, unless it’s raining or humid — or some ungodly, cruel combination of the three. Some things just can’t be helped.

What can be helped is our ability to adapt, change and push ourselves past the line. For the first time, U.S. News & World Report featured UH in its annual list of the nation’s best colleges. UH has broken into the pack.

We received Tier One recognition last year, joining the ranks of A&M and UT as Carnegie-recognized schools. This year, we made the list of the top 200 universities in the nation. We already know what’s ahead of us next year: the Big East, glory and more recognition.

These accomplishments aren’t one-year achievements. A year of shutdown football doesn’t mean the next year will be smooth sailing. We made Tier One because of our research. For years, our fellow Cougars dug themselves in and began to pick at what they could and find something new because the status quo just wasn’t enough.

This year’s ranking is undoubtedly because of our commitment to expand and accommodate the wave of freshmen joining our pride. It’s because of our leadership — the faculty and staff, and most especially, Khator — for spending years shaping UH into a top-ranked university.

Our continued success relies not only on the student body, but on participating staff and faculty as well. Football head coach Tony Levine spent all week drilling and practicing with the team, knowing the match at Reliant would be challenging. Once Saturday rolled around, it was on our players to deliver a tremendous beating to our cross-town rival.

Khator and the UH Department of Public Safety cracked down on the crime problem and while some local thugs had students holed up in terror for a week, the next week we all let out an easy breath once the arrests were made.

This is what defines a modern university. We’re not some old boys club they have up north, nor do we pretend to be. We don’t have our noses in the air, but in the books, because we know despite next year’s rank, we still have midterms tomorrow.

The rankings and accolades are nice, and it’s great to feel recognized. But, at UH, we have the luxury of not feeling accustomed to these titles. They’re new. They’re fancy. They’re great to have. But it’s not what defines us.

It’s our pride that defines us and what earned us those neat rankings in the first place. As we continue to rise in the ranks, soar past city and state rivals in sports and academics, it’s important to remember that above all — no matter what, no matter how good or bad today is — we’re still the University of Houston, and we’ll be the Cougars until the day we die. Go Coogs.

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

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