In our March Columns alumni vote on who has more pride, we found that both Huskies and Cougars have a lot of devotion to their alma maters—and for a few alumni of both schools, perhaps too much. When the voting period expired on March 15, the system was suffering from voter fraud. Over one million “votes” had been cast—more than double the actual alumni population of the two schools.
At that time, the vote was effectively a tie, with 50 percent voting for the Huskies and 50 percent voting for the Cougars. During the balloting, we found that there had been multiple votes cast from the same computer addresses—as many as 5,000 votes came out of one computer in one day. The ballot stuffing came at a rapid pace. Sometimes more than 500 votes were cast in 10 seconds.
Both Huskies and Cougars took advantage of computer loopholes to write “scripts” that cast multiple votes. At noon on March 15, when voting ended, 1,083,703 ballots were cast, with the Huskies getting 542,034 “votes” and the Cougars getting 541,669. UWAA computer staff estimate that there were between 15,000 and 20,000 valid votes. The rest were votes generated by computer scripts.
Self-selecting polls that use the Web or toll-free numbers are never statistically valid. However, they can give an indication of alumni sentiment. Along with the votes, we received more than 5,000 comments from Huskies and Cougars that have provided valuable insights into why they are proud of their institutions.
Both Huskies and Cougars felt that their student experience was a major factor in how they demonstrated their pride. Going to a diverse, urban school was different from a rural, residential campus, they said.
“I believe that the homogeneity of Pullman translates into a sense of sameness among Cougar alumni, which can also be interpreted as pride. The UW, conversely, has a much higher degree of cultural diversity by nature of its setting within a major metropolitan area. While Cougs have all spent time in the same places, walking the same paths in the relatively isolated town of Pullman, Husky grads have taken advantage of all the diverse opportunities that Seattle offers—but they have fewer shared experiences,” wrote one Husky.
“When you attend WSU, you get to experience the whole ‘going away to college’ experience and live it up. You are more likely to form lifelong friendships at WSU. The majority of UW students live off campus; once class is over they are off back into the depths of the city away from campus. In Pullman, no matter where you live, you are never more than 10 minutes away from campus. You are more likely to run into friends and colleagues around town, which brings WSU students closer together. Having that type of atmosphere definitely made me feel at home away from home. Like the majority of WSU alumni, when I think of my time at WSU, I think of all the positive experiences I had and the great people I met, which make me proud of being a WSU alumnus,” said one Cougar.