Day #019: Strengthen RVA’s identity as a three-university town

Cross-town rec sports rivalries and collaborative concerts could be a fun way to strengthen bonds between Richmond’s three great universities.

Inspired by Michael Bierut’s 100 Day Project, 100 Days to a Better RVA strives to introduce and investigate unique ideas to improving the city of Richmond. View the entire project here and the intro here.

  • Idea: Increase casual interactions between UR, VCU, and VUU to strengthen Richmond’s identity as a three university town.
  • Difficulty: 1 — Opportunities for enhancing engagement don’t need to be costly or complicated, they simply need to help students, faculty, and administrators from all three campuses interact.

Universities are a powerful force in Richmond. Univeristy of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Union University all helped make this city what it is, and they will continue to be drivers for years to come. There are several formal relationships between all three universities and each university and the city, but more can be done to strengthen RVA’s identity as a three-university town.

The formal grants and agreements are numerous. For example, UR and VCU have a $499,984 3-year agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to collaborate on developing programs “that will educate and train students, law enforcement officers and first responders about preventing and responding to sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, and stalking.”

What’s missing, though, are the casual and informal situations for students to interact. Despite only being separated by a few city blocks, VCU students and VUU students almost never cross paths. I’d even venture to guess that some underclassmen at VCU don’t even know that VUU exists.

Opportunities for enhancing engagement don’t need to be costly or overly complicated. All three universities could have a friendly food drive competition (controlled for enrollment), much like Hokies vs. ‘Hoos. Music departments from all three universities could collaborate once a year. Any number of worthwhile events that already happen at one of the universities could rotate annually between the three universities.

Athletic competition between UR and VCU has increased during the Mooney/Smart era, but the once annual VCU-VUU exhibition game has only happened once in the past three seasons. Outside of football and basketball, formalized sports at all three universities don’t do a great job engaging the general student population, but recreational leagues and the fraternity leagues could expand to city-wide competition.

UR, VCU, and VUU have their own sets of strengths and weaknesses. On their own, each university will continue to proposer as an integral part of the story of Richmond, but increased interaction between the three–both formal and informal–has the potential to make RVA an even better city.

Love this idea? Think it’s terrible? Have one that’s ten times better? Head over to the 100 Days to a Better RVA Facebook page and join in the conversation.

Photo by: lreed76

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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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