West Virginia University is more than a party school..

Photo via @westvirginiau. Photo by @xxalfreyxx

Another party school ranking is out and it’s no surprise that my social media newsfeed was spammed by people posting the results that West Virginia University topped the list.

For years, I have watched people post these articles and flaunt it as if it’s something to be proud of. These articles make my heart crumble. I always look at images of outrageous parties knowing that there is so much more depth to West Virginia University than alcohol, half naked girls, house parties, bars fights, twerking, and clubs. I’d even go as far to bet that WVU is more than that to most of the people posting these articles.

When I reflect on my time at WVU, of course I see a few typical parties in my past… what college student doesn’t? But for me, my memories of WVU aren’t waking up every morning with a hangover like the media likes to portray. No, instead, I remember waking up and grabbing breakfast at Hatfields before class and drinking their watered-down lattes. I remember passing Woodburn on my way to class and admiring the way it still managed to gleam with radiance on any particularly gloomy, rainy day. I remember spending hours in the J school crafting news stories in a lab full of shiny Mac computers. I remember waiting in endless lines at the Mountainlair for dinner with friends and enjoying touchdown tosses at football games. I remember watching the women’s soccer team win Big East and Big 12 titles and watching a talented dance team become national champs year after year. And I remember WVU Football going against all odds and defeating Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl under Coach Stewart and let’s not forget squashing Clemson in the Orange Bowl.  I remember enjoying conversations with professors who encouraged me to be the best I can be. I remember working out in one of the best student rec centers in the country. I remember starting my own student organization and landing the internship of my dreams at a national office… And when I remember these things, I have this unfathomable pride to be a Mountaineer. I know, without a doubt, that feeling is not just unique to me. We all know that feeling..

Yet, when I graduated last May and was interviewed for job opportunities, I was still asked about my school’s party reputation. They saw the Osama Bin Laden riots, they saw the “I’m Shmacked” videos, they know the reputation of our men’s head football and basketball coaches, and they saw our student section throw a quarter and hit Pitt’s assistant basketball coach. I was forced to answer to things I had no part in.. things that many of us didn’t have a part in.

It sucks to sit and watch a university you love be degraded to such a low status. I even once overheard someone from out of state make the argument, “If you don’t want to party, don’t come to college here then.” Talk about disgusting? I didn’t realize I couldn’t go to the college in MY HOME STATE that I admired wide-eyed from childhood. West Virginia University was my dream school. It’s the only school I applied to and NOT for partying’s sake. Growing up, I bled blue and gold. I knew that this University held so much academic and professional promise for me. I knew there was no other school for me.

When you pull back the rotten exterior layers from West Virginia University’s appearance, there you will discover a rich, ripe campus producing more than just broken beer bottles, neon lights, and empty gallons of liquor.

West Virginia University is a place of endless possibilities that fosters success and helps turn dreams into reality and it’s time we start showcasing it as the nationally competitive university that it could be. Please stop sharing our party school ratings and share something worth exhibiting to America..Oh, I don’t know.. maybe like Katherine Bomcamp, WVU student featured in Glamour Magazine as a Top 10 College Woman of 2013.

Let’s help show off what it means to really be a Mountaineer.

Once a Mountaineer, Always a Mountaineer.


Proud Alum Shae Snyder

27 Replies to “West Virginia University is more than a party school..”

  1. I loved your post Shae!
    I first came to WVU in 2011 from Brazil as an exchange student. I fell in love with everything in WVU, the rec center, the Arnold Hall, the cultural programs, my taekwondo classes, the up all night, my top professors at the political science dept., all the friends from so many different countries, the nature, the adventure, going to games and much more. WVU is much more than parties and kids going crazy.
    After I went back home to graduate I was very sure that I wanted to came back to grad school. Now I’m in my second semester at the MA program in Political Science and I love WVU each day more. Congrats for your success and I wish you reach big thing in life as a proud mountaineer that you are!

    1. Awe, thanks for your comment and reading my post. I’m so happy you chose WVU as your college of choice. Congrats on landing a place in an awesome graduate program. Wishing you all the best! 🙂

  2. Thank you from another proud alumni and the proud mother of a young woman attending school as an out of state student at this fine university. My daughter is a criminology major hoping to minor in Spanish and /or Forensics, an Alpha Phi, in ROTC and a proud member of the WV Army National Guard! She has met wonderful new friends, enjoys her classes, may study abroad, takes advantage of the awesome student Rec center, just went snowboarding at Wisp on a school sponsored event, goes to sporting and cultural events, and loves not only WVU but also Morgantown and the state of WV! It is a wonderful university and I am proud to have graduated with my bachelor and master degrees from WVU and am a successful professional in my field! Thank you again and Go Mountaineers!

  3. I, too, am a proud WVU alumni who has a hard time hearing these reports about all the partying at the university. Thank you for sharing your feelings…I couldn’t agree more!

  4. Great perspective in this piece, but I have one minor correction. The aforementioned quarter that struck a Pitt assistant coach was thrown not from the student section, but rather from somebody seated behind the Pitt bench.

  5. Thank you for this! As a Morgantown native, I cannot count the number of times I have overheard my fellow students say things like “Morgantown isn’t real life,” or “Morgantown is just a place to party.”

    No, it’s not.

    It’s a place where thousands of children (myself included) grow up already yearning to become Mountaineers. It’s a place where we have homes, families, churches, small businesses and a sense community. Most folks who like to perpetuate this negative stereotype are not from around here, and most of them would probably be disheartened to see other outsiders do to their hometown what they do to mine. I came to WVU because as a native of Morgantown, I had a lot of opportunity – without the PROMISE Scholarship, who knows if college would have even been a possibility for me. I worked hard for my diploma and I resent those who excitedly choose to diminish the value of our degrees by bragging about their poor extracurricular choices. My hat is off to you, Shae.

    Rachel Nieman
    Class of ’12

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Rachel. I grew up in Fairmont and spent so much time in Morgantown as a kid. It’s definitely home to me — not just a party school. Thanks for taking time to read and your comment! 🙂

  6. Proud of you! This issue has been on my mind for a long time. I always hated people putting up status messages on Facebook..saying how proud they were to be a part of a institution not for its education, but for topping the list of partying schools.It is really a shame! I am glad someone like you thinks beyond that!

  7. You’re right, WVU is more than just partying, which is why I don’t understand why you’re continuing to let it be all about partying. Even in this article all you do is talk about partying, but don’t list one single thing other than partying tha makes WVU great! When asked about controversial issues about the university, you aren’t forced to answer them. You re-direct the conversation about the hundreds of students who are recognized by the US President for their community service efforts, that we have the 5th best library in the nation, or mention accomplishments of your major’s department. Or are you just as ignorant of your own university as your interviewers were?

    Having a fun time in college may not have been a high priority for you, but it a priority for some people. I went to WVU, I graduated cum laude with 2 majors and a minor in 5 years, I was in a fraternity and an officer in 3 other student organizations all while working at least one part time job. I worked my ass off during the week and on the weekend I partied. I partied to get all the stress of school and work out of my mind, to keep my sanity. So having a reputation as a school who knows how to have fun may not be something YOU’RE proud of, but it is something I and obviously many others are proud of.

    1. Hey there! I’m sorry you took my article that way. I don’t think all I did was mention partying? I talked about several things that make WVU great: the J school, Woodburn, athletics, the rec center, student organizations, the successful Katherine Bomcamp.. I could have went on and on, but for the sake of my readers I didn’t want to drag on. This audience knows all about WVU. I didn’t feel the need to list every accomplishment about WVU.

      Secondly, I never said I didn’t have fun in college but just because your definition of fun is partying, doesn’t mean it’s everyone else’s. I graduated with highest honors, won outstanding PR senior of the year, and started my own student organization. Meanwhile I was an RA, TA, the only social media intern for all of WVU, president of my student org, an intern for Make-A-Wish WV, and a freelance employee for the national office of Make-A-Wish, all at the same time while taking 18+ hours of classes and graduating in four years. I know what it means to be stressed out from school and I am all about having a good time too. It’s about finding the balance and our university being known for MORE than just partying. All colleges party and I’m fine with that. But most other universities are not just known for that. I want our university to get credit for having presidential recognition for community service, having the 5th best library, and major accomplishments in my department (like Justin Weaver who is now a lead producer for ABC). I want WVU to get the credit it deserves to have and be recognized and viewed as national competitor in more than just partying. I know, you know, and most other WVU students know that West Virginia University is one full of promise and opportunity. I want that to be noticed on a national level. That’s all.

      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your points and I appreciate you challenging my writing (I mean that sincerely not sarcastically).

  8. I absolutely love this. Similar stories and perspectives should be broadcasted, publicized and thought of more because our school is overloaded with potential in a wide array of subjects and disciplines, and we need to start speaking up and taking a stand to divert this attention away from our partying to our potential!

  9. Unfortunately, talking does nothing. The administration looks the other way, the city looks the other way (b/c hey what is the biggest source of funds to the city), and most of the students don’t care. The reality is that the University will recruit practically anyone who will pay, and keep them there till they can’t; they could care less if a student graduates. Check the graduation rates, abysmal. Until the University and the students decide that they no longer want to perpetuate that environment and actually stand up and take action, the problem will remain.

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