Two years ago, Amber and I drove down to Virginia Tech for my orientation. The all-day event started with us and couple of hundred of my fellow transfer students sitting down, assembly-style, and addressed by a few speakers over the course of an hour or so. The speeches began, ended, and were laced throughout with a single thread: Virginia Tech is better than UVa. This was stated both as a rah-rah opinion and as a fact, backed up with various statistics to make it meaningful. It was all Amber — a UVa graduate — could do to keep quiet, since it was as clear to me as it was to her that the facts were all either fabricated or distorted.
Afterwards, we were puzzled. Why did Virginia Tech feel the need to say such things, and about UVa, in particular? Particularly things so demonstrably false? Yes, there are things that VT does better than UVa (engineering, architecture, agriculture, and computer science all come to mind most readily), but for anybody seeking a liberal arts education, there’s just no way around it: UVa is better. I’m OK with that. UVa turned me down and VT accepted me, because UVa has higher standards for their college of liberal arts, and I didn’t meet those standards.
When Amber went for her transfer orientation at UVa, there was no mention of Virginia Tech.
The conclusion that we came to was this was your basic inferiority complex. This was a room full of liberal arts students disappointed that they didn’t get into UVa, but instead got into their safety school. Tech surely knows full well that UVa is generally a superior school for such pursuits. VT’s repeated attacks on UVa were evidence of UVa’s superiority, bolstered by UVa’s disinterest in reciprocating in their orientations.
I relate this story a) because it’s interesting and b) because it reminds me very much of the current Virginia governor’s election. Republican Jerry Kilgore insists loudly that independent Republican Russ Potts is no threat to him and only harms Democrat Tim Kaine, and yet he and his surrogates constantly attack Potts. By e-mail, by snail mail, and by blog, Republicans put so much effort into discrediting this guy. And yet everything that I’ve heard Potts say seems to make good sense, even when I don’t agree with him. Kaine, on the other hand, has little to say about Potts, and when he does, it’s usually complimentary.
Which school is the better one? I say UVa.