Photo by Jasmyne Ray for The Alabamian.
I came to Montevallo not really knowing what this collegiate sacrament was or what picking sides meant. I found out later that this little thing, known as College Night, isn’t really little at all.
With “PV” and “GV” emblems posted around campus, plastered on shirts or even waved around on the hands of many of my peers, I soon came to realize this gets real.
With no definite direction, I waltzed through the doors of the Student Activities Center and into the College Night Mixer, eyes wide with wonder and uncertainty.
The atmosphere was hectic and alive. The separation was evident with golds lined up on one side of the SAC and purples assembled on the other. Every person on each team, embellished with purple cows or golden lions, was assembled and ready to pounce, as the masses of new comers were herded in.
I was engulfed in purple as soon as I entered the arena. The three or four cows that moo’d over their team talked endlessly about the different opportunities there are to get involved. With their motto “Join our Family” they assured a close-knit atmosphere, lifelong friendships and a good time.
Once a gold member approached me, I was assured, with a roar, that I’d always be welcomed. With their slogan, “There’s Always Room for One More,” they advertised a lion’s pride, a small community where everyone had a place.
I understand now why people talk about the clash between the colors and why some decide to stay neutral or ‘go green.’ The two sides are so similar with their aspects of family, belonging, and teamwork, but they all mean such different things in the end.
I didn’t fully grasp the concept until I actually encountered it. College Night is the heart and soul of this university. Not only the productions, but even the idea of it all, means so much to students. It has spawned athletic teams and created families. It’s anticipated yearly; fought for and fought over. It puts a fire in students’ bellies and makes them bleed purple, gold or green.
When I walked into the annual college night mixer on the night of Sept. 22, I was a girl on a mission. Ever since my first visit to Montevallo I was unsure of the difference between purple and gold side. I’d asked both peers and professors, but no explanation provided the clarification I needed. However, I knew upon my arrival to the mixer that it was the place my question would finally be answered.
As expected, the lobby of the SAC was abundantly decorated with purple and gold. All around there were students sporting the colors of their respective sides with PV or GV buttons to match. A palpable sense of excitement coupled with anticipation filled the room.
I first sought out the purple and gold leaders. Who better qualified to answer my question than those who truly embody the spirit of the purple and gold sides?
“What makes us different than gold side I think is found in our motto, a united circle is a united side,” said male purple side leader, James Powers, “And what we mean by that is when we circle up every single person in that circle is special and important and accepted and loved.”
Michael Cleary, male gold side leader, further elaborated on what differs between the two sides. “I actually played purple my freshmen year, and so coming to gold side, one of the biggest things that attracted me was gold side’s attitude towards the games,” Cleary said, “We spend our whole college night experience trying to be positive with everything we do and trying to really reinforce that there’s always room for someone in our circle.”
Following my talk with the leaders, I questioned both purple and gold side members as to what drew them to their sides. I found that whether I was talking to a purple or to a gold, the answers I received were nearly identical, with camaraderie being the common thread connecting every explanation and anecdote. Most students found that their personalities just clicked with their respective side, and that they quickly felt welcomed and loved by their peers.
When it comes to actually picking a side, I think purple side member Brandon Bishop said it best: “You don’t choose your side, your side chooses you.”
So did I accomplish my goal of uncovering the difference between purple and gold? I believe so. Although the two sides are more alike than they are different, each one offers something unique. However, I believe that uniqueness is better experienced than explained.