We Are Virginia Tech

There has been a lot of discussion over the past few days about Virginia Tech’s response in the early hours of Tuesday’s tragedy. Did they take the matter seriously enough? Did they respond quickly and effectively enough? Did they really have the best interest of their students, faculty and staff in mind?
Those issues can and will be debated for some time. They should be. What can NOT be debated though is just how impressive the Hokie nation has turned out to be. Almost immediately after the disaster, the community rallied around itself and started addressing their own problems. If there’s anything that can be learned about Virginia Tech from all of this is that the school, the administration, the students and the alumni have built an incredibly supportive and united community. How could anyone watch the way they’ve responded and still think that the university doesn’t care about its own students and employees? You can’t watch the obvious love that those people have for their school and not be incredibly impressed.
I mentioned in my previous post that incidents like this always make sports seem so inconsequential. Well, maybe I need to reconsider. Virginia Polytechnic University is NOT just a football team, but it’s clear that the football team, along with all the other athletic teams, IS a huge part of the school. A huge part of the culture. A hugely positive part of the culture, experience and pride of being a Hokie. Students, alumni and fans everywhere – including the Washington Nationals – have been wearing the maroon and orange all week. They repeatedly refer to themselves as Hokies. That unity and common identity comes directly from the athletic teams.
Sports do matter.
Finally, to wrap up the two points I’m making, you need to watch this video from yesterday’s convocation in Cassell Coliseum. An English professor gives an incredibly stirring speech that clearly inspired everyone in the crowd. Watch the whole thing and see what spontaneously erupts near the end. I promise you, you’ll get a bit choked up. And you’ll see why sports can be so important.
We all are Virginia Tech.

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