After a trip down to Atlanta, Ga. for the Georgia Tech versus Virginia Tech game last Thursday, I have decided to write in reference to the criticism of Jim Weaver's campaign for Hokie Respect.
The hospitality provided by the restaurants, hotels, and local shops in Atlanta was above and beyond my expectations and standards; however, this was not the case in the stands of the Bobby Dodd Stadium. My friends and I were seated in the visitor's corner, surrounded by older Georgia Tech fans. From my four seasons of experience with Virginia Tech football, I would judge that the visitor section was filled with a slightly more mild Hokie Fan. Now don't get me wrong, it is well known by all Hokies that we are some of the loudest and proudest fans anyone will ever come by. In the first moments of the game I noticed the Georgia Tech fans were in for a treat because even though our section was on the modest side of cheering, the Georgia Tech's fans voices were inaudible compared to our screams and chants. Even though they were not as loud or energetic in their cheering, they did have a few words to share with my fellow Hokies.
From the beginning of the game, my friends and I were harassed and taunted about our school, our community and our Hokie culture. Cheers were chanted by some of the older Georgia Tech fans seated near us. These chants and cheers implied Blacksburg is a trashy place to live and go to school and that we all live in a trailer park and are considered "hicks." These comments did not come as a big surprise to me, as many in the past have expressed similar judgments about Blacksburg toward me. However, the age of the fans and the form of mockery came as a surprise. When an older man behind my friends and me started swinging his hips, pumping his arms and singing "Blacksburg Trailerpark," I decided these fans were immature and did not deserve our attention. However, when a friend of mine was approached by a Georgia Tech fan and asked if she wanted to hear a Tech joke, she obliged and was told a joke mocking our community and the events of April 16. At this moment, I was mad, upset and frustrated with the treatment and disrespect of me and my fellow Hokies. In addition, I was more proud than ever of our fans: students, staff, alumni, friends and family; I feel as though our fans, with the help of the Hokie Respect campaign, are courteous, helpful and respectful. Not only was the respect from Georgia Tech lacking, it was utterly rude and sickening.
The campaign for Hokie Respect may be a joke to some, allowing us to yell at our fellow intoxicated friends "You're on Jerk Alert!" Or it may just be one more loud announcement that prolongs the entrance of our team and our incessant jumping to "Enter Sandman." However, Hokie Respect has a new meaning to me: Proud and Honorable Hokie Spirit.