In a message from West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee on October 20, the university leader stressed that we “must collectively – students, faculty, staff, alumni and fans – reject the reputation of our past and instill and embrace the reputation that is our future.”
Two B&E students took it upon themselves to lead that charge even before Gee’s statement, by taking Twitter by storm with the hashtag #RespectfulMountaineer.
Morgantown was nationally trending on the social network the afternoon of Sunday, October 19, for the destructive behavior that occurred the previous night in the wake of the football team’s upset win over then-#4 ranked Baylor.
WVU students Chris Hickey and Deonna Gandy, both junior marketing majors in the College of Business and Economics, were among the majority of students who were displeased with the riotous actions.
“I just don’t understand the logic of vandalizing the city and university as a display of school pride,” Hickey tweeted. “We need to treat WVU properly and give back as much, if not more, to the University and Morgantown as each has given us.”
As the two discussed how to reach out to their peers and make a difference, they decided social media was the answer. So, they created #RespectfulMountaineer, an effort to raise awareness that the destructive, party school reputation is no longer cool, fun or exciting.
The campaign has received tremendous support from the WVU community and beyond. The students measured their reach using hashtagtracker.com and found that the campaign reached 360,000 people in a little more than a day.
“Creating the hashtag provides a platform for those who associate themselves with WVU that felt vilified by these post-game incidents,” Hickey said. “The public perception of WVU is of the utmost importance. There are so many unsung heroes at WVU, so many scholars and so many genuinely hospitable people. Unfortunately these great achievements can’t be properly recognized (without changing this culture.)”
“WVU educates students to be successful for the workforce, and we (need to be) a great representation of that,” Gandy added. “The behavior (that night) is not who we are or what we want to be known for.”
Gandy thanked her professors at B&E who have taught her ethics, as well as how to effectively reach consumers. She said that her education here helped her feel prepared and confident to begin a campaign like #RespectfulMountaineer.
“I know this is a movement that will have a lasting impact, because many students are fed up. We deserve to be recognized and respected for our hard work,” Gandy said.
The students ask that Mountaineers everywhere keep the hashtag going. Head to Twitter and tell the world why you are a #RespectfulMountaineer!