As an undergrad, when you first leave home to be on your own at college, you develop a special connection to the school and the area. Even if you have never been to college, you find a school that you care for more than any of the others, particularly the sports teams. However, actually spending upwards of 4 years at an institution really develops a love of the university and a sense of pride.
I am a Mountaineer through and through. I was raised in Morgantown, WV and earned my B.S. and M.S. from WVU. However, to better my success in my chosen field, I had to leave the place I love to have a better opportunity in my future career. Obviously, I’ve ended up in Blacksburg at VT, a hated rival (not so much anymore, but aunts, uncles, and grandparents point out my traitorous move) of WVU. However, I still have yet to go to a VT football or basketball game, and probably never will until WVU plays them again, in which case I will be wearing the Gold and Blue in the VT student section.
The biggest difference that I have noticed between the two schools is the respect and pride for the university. In Morgantown, students are married to alcohol and party 7 out of 7 days per week. This comes with some obvious consequences for the town and university. We are constantly labeled the #1 party school in the nation, after any football game at least 10 couches will be set on fire, there will probably be a car flipped and possibly torched, police are called out in riot gear occasionally, and fights among each other happen so regularly that no one even bats an eye. In fact, I went home last weekend and was out with some friends when a fight broke out right next to me on the street, and I grabbed the attacker and pulled him off of the other kid on the ground.
The “Mountaineer Pride” that the students and alumni claim is nothing but a facade. The streets are littered with trash and alcohol bottles, there is vomit in the streets, after any sporting event, there is constant harassment of opposing team fans. Hell, the students got blamed for it, but during a nationally televised basketball game a few years ago an opposing team coach or player was hit with a coin thrown from the crowd; and that was not from a student, but just a fan. We care deeply about our university and our teams, but could care less how it reflects on the university. I think that biggest influence of this activity and behavior is the town its self; everyone gets caught up in the drunk fest that is Morgantown.
From what I have seen of Blacksburg, it is nothing like Morgantown. There is very, very little trash in the streets, no one ever complains about excessively rude fans, the students here even have the Big Event, a huge volunteer project by the students to help clean the university and do chores for the elderly, and much more. To me, this is respect and pride for your university. WVU is like a rebellious adolescent drinking and fighting and doing whatever the hell they want when they want where VT is like a young professional trying to impress the boss for a promotion.
Don’t get me wrong, I bleed Gold and Blue, but it would be immature and ignorant for me or any other WVU student or alumni to think that we are respectful to our university. If you think that any of the laundry list of issues that I briefly touched on is respectful and represents our university well is sorely mistaken. All the bad rap WVU gets, it has earned 10 fold. The university is truly trying to change the culture, they recently demolished Sunny Side, a huge area of what should have been condemned student homes that after you leave the dorms you will most likely ended up and probably werre threatened at some point of being arrested.
All in all, Blacksburg and VT have shown me you can be respectful and have pride in your university without demolishing it at the same time. WVU has some growing up to do, but I have hope.