Radford University has been deemed as one of the best schools in Southwest Virginia. It provides education to almost 10,000 students and is best known for its liberal arts programs. On the other hand, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University has almost 31,000 students enrolled and is famous for its science and engineering programs. Radford has a smaller campus, with most of its brick buildings in close proximity to each other. Virginia Tech has a huge campus with most of the buildings made of limestone, also called Hokey Stone.
It seems that Radford has nothing in common with Virginia Tech, yet our school is compared to Virginia Tech at every turn despite the fact that they are very different schools. Radford and Virginia Tech have very different histories, educational programs, and ideals. Why are the two colleges trying to compete with each other instead of lifting each other up like they have in the past?
Radford began as an all-girls school in 1910. Its first name was the State Normal Industrial School for Women and was created to train new teachers for the Virginia public school system. Virginia Tech was founded in 1872 and its first name was the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute. It was an all-boys school, which means it got more funding at its start than Radford University because of patriarchal favoritism. Virginia Tech also has almost 40 more years of experience than Radford, which means they have had more time to grow and become a better school.
In 1943, a merge was proposed between Radford and Virginia Tech as part of statewide effort to bring together institutions of higher learning to offer students a broader and more thorough education. Radford, known as Radford State Teachers College during that time, was the women’s division of Virginia Tech. Back then, the two schools helped each other out and were a team of the Southwest. Unfortunately, the “marriage” was abolished in 1964 after Radford and Virginia Tech were united for 21 years. Today, Virginia Tech students seem like they do not even want to associate with Radford.
There seems to be a Virginia Tech superiority complex that its students have. Many Virginia Tech students claim that Radford is for people that were “too stupid” to get into Virginia Tech. When Donald Trump came to Radford, Virginia for the rally, several Virginia Tech students on Twitter posted messages like, “Trump chose Radford over Tech because he knew we were too smart to ever vote for him so he didn’t bother,” and “How ironic Trump announces he’s speaking at Radford University a day after saying he loves poorly educated people.”
Many Radford students are upset with these kinds statements, especially since Radford has continually looked up to and supported Virginia Tech. Radford University student Rachel Mars shared her thoughts on Facebook about the Virginia Tech students’ disrespectful comments.
“Every year on April 16th the entire whole of RU stands in orange and maroon with Tech as our brothers. We go to VT football games and jump as high to Enter Sandman as every Hokie in the stands. RU has always held respect for Tech as an amazing school and as our sister school in the NRV (sharing many educational organizations and resources mind you) yet their are still small minded Hokies like this that have to go above and beyond to make Highlanders feel like less…,” she posted.
Speaking of Virginia Tech and Radford sharing educational resources, many professors that teach at Virginia Tech also teach at Radford! So Virginia Tech students saying that Radford students are uneducated or that our degree is worthless are basically stating that their degree is worthless too. Radford has a lot of the same professors as Virginia Tech, we have smaller class sizes so we learn more than we would in a class with 80 or more students, and we do not have to pay as much for our education. I think that going to college at Radford is a very intelligent decision, based on these facts.
Like I have stated before, Virginia Tech and Radford have little in common. Radford is one-third the size of Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech is famous for its sciences, while Radford is well known for its liberal arts programs. If Virginia Tech students want to compare themselves to other schools, they should consider comparing themselves to schools that are more like them. Virginia Commonwealth University – while better known for the arts – has a student body size of almost 25,000, much closer to Virginia Tech than Radford. George Mason University is also a larger school and has an engineering program like Virginia Tech. University of Virginia and Virginia Tech already have a sports rivalry, and comparing academics can be just as easy.
As students at Radford, we do not need to compare ourselves to Virginia Tech to validate that we are a good college. Just in the past four years of my attendance at Radford I have seen many new, beautiful buildings built, countless improvements made to educational programs, and numerous fellow students succeed in academics than was ever thought possible. Radford is never stagnent because we have to keep proving ourselves to people like our Virginia Tech neighbors. I am proud to be a Highlander (like Virginia Tech students are proud to be Hokies), and I know my fellow students would like to be respected by Virginia Tech so that one day we can work together again.
Published by Radford University’s The Tartan on Mar. 23, 3016