Written by: Jessica Ingram
When you think about Harvard, you think about arrogant, intellectual, trust-fund-spending, future corporate lawyers. When you think about University of Arizona, you think of “Girls Gone Wild.”
But what comes to mind when people think about VSU?
The VSU administration is in the process of trying to answer that question.
VSU has joined the Atlanta firm of T.G. Madison to launch an institutional identity study. According to the Office of Communications, the study will identify the attitudes, perceptions and experiences of current and prospective students, parents of current and prospective students, high school guidance counselors, alumni, faculty, and staff.
“VSU’s identity is as strong as the sum of the parts that define it,” Michael Orr, with T.G. Madison, said. “Buildings, curriculum, academic standing, athletics and the city of Valdosta all contribute to your identity, but the most powerful factors are the thoughts, feelings and conversations that happen about VSU. Brands are living things. You are the brand, and the brand is you.”
In order to contribute to this idea of branding, a handful of students and alumni were asked to finish a couple sentences: “You might be a VSU student if …” and “When I think of VSU I think …”
Many of the current students who were interviewed seemed to be thinking about the same thing−parking.
“When I think of VSU I think of the struggle to park,” Jessie Brooks, senior accounting major, said.
Kati Keefe, senior exercise physiology major, shared the sentiment.
“You might be a VSU student if you can never find a parking spot,” Keefe said.
Another hot topic for VSU students was fees.
“When I think of VSU I think of fees, fees, and more fees,” Keefe said.
Aside from parking and fees, there were some responses that were more positive and some that only make sense if you spend time on campus.
“You might be a VSU student if you know ‘Club Odum’ isn’t really a club,” Lacey Miller, junior education major, said.
Jessica Johnston, a business administration graduate student, described an activity that many students participate in during the warmer months.
“You might be a VSU student if you lay on the front lawn after class,” Johnston said.
B.J. Guest, senior education major, referenced the emails that students receive to keep them updated on campus events.
“You might be a VSU student if you get at least five emails from Trisha Lynn Taylor,” Guest said.
Interestingly, VSU alumni had a much different perspective compared to current students.
“When I think of VSU I think of football on Saturdays,” Jonathan Jones, 2001 exercise physiology graduate, said.
Jones also expressed one of the university’s main selling points.
“You may be a VSU student if you don’t want to be lost in a big university,” said.
Another alumnus, Lee Ricketson, 1998 biology graduate, said that three football national championships is what comes to his mind when he thinks of VSU.
The difference in perspectives between current students and alumni is quite drastic. Current students know of the struggles that are fresh in their mind; however, past students remember the positive experiences they had and the things they hear about often.