Texas Tech social media has been blazing the last couple of weeks, mostly stemming from a notorious video containing a student who claimed to “have COVID-19” and everyone at the party had it as well. Tech says they are looking into it in an attempt to commence damage control for the university’s image. 

This has brought a worthwhile question to mind for many, what is Tech’s current reputation? What do other universities and people outside think about us? We need to work to improve our self-image. As you will find out soon, our reputation leaves a lot to be desired.

While it was important to keep an open mind while obtaining the information for this column, there were at least a few expectations. Those who were in college  a couple of years ago might remember the infamous Final Four riot, where drunken Tech students created a bonfire full of Lime scooters and flipped over a car. 

We definitely have a past of being really enthusiastic at football games to say the least. Finally, our location in Lubbock also factors into people’s opinions, perhaps thinking us to be cowboys or ranch hands. 

These expectations seemed to be met, upon speaking to Michael Byrd, a Louisiana State University sophomore theater major from Houston. Upon the mention of Tech, rural countryside was the first thing he said came to mind. 

We proceeded to talk about rumors he has heard, and he mentioned hearing that Tech had a lack of diversity when it came to Black and Hispanic/Latino students, leading to them possibly being discriminated. However, also hearing that Tech was accepting and welcoming of LGBT+ students (again saying LGBT people of color may not be cas accepted). 

Byrd retained sentiment that despite how the campus might be with these groups, he was very dubious that the surrounding area of Lubbock may show a warm behavior for these groups. When the subject turned to university handling of COVID-19, Byrd told me, without any mention beforehand, that he had viewed the infamous “COVID-19 party” video, and while he said it was irresponsible, he also said his own university, LSU, has had similar controversy.

Last month, a rather large student party was broken up and gave LSU a rather inappropriate image. When asked if he thought Tech was a viable university for rising freshmen, he said he did. However, only with the caveat of pondering whether Tech should be even taking in any new freshmen, given the current COVID-19 situation. 

Next, the same set of questions were asked to two students from The University of Texas. The first of which, was Ryan Bethke, a junior computer science and Spanish major from Houston. The other was a student named Andrew Mathews, a junior biomedical engineering major from Sugar Land. 

After mentioning his friends currently go to Tech, Bethke said Tech always mystified him that such a large university was in Lubbock, the middle of nowhere, and not in Dallas, Austin or Houston. Mathews said, while he respected the academic nature of the university, he  heard the location was a little less than ideal. 

And speaking of things less then ideal, Bethke mentioned knowledge of the infamous “Raider Rash” (a term used for STDs spread by students), and both students had knowledge of the Final Four riots listed above. After they were asked about comparison of COVID-19 handling with Tech and their own universities, they both said it was fairly similar, the main difference being that UT is ending their semester after Thanksgiving break. Overall, they both seemed to share a lot of respect for Tech as a university and a gateway to the professional world.

It was after conducting these interviews I formed the conclusion that Tech is looked down upon or even given an awkward glance outside of the Tech student population. Obviously, several of the sentiments expressed here aren’t exactly things we want to be known for or are things that we think are true. 

We as Red Raiders know how things are really going on here on campus. If we wish to change our image, it will have to be a collaborative effort, either make the necessary changes or to prove that the statements are incorrect, and we are better than what is said about us.

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