Bush School must adhere to Aggie protocol, traditions
The George Bush Presidential Library is a wonderful boost for Texas A&M and for Bryan/College Station. If any president from James Polk to Abe Lincoln offered us their library, we would be foolish not to leap at the chance. Although we should warmly welcome the new library, we should accept it on our terms.
We must remember that the new Bush School is part A&M -- A&M is not part of the Bush School.
The new Bush School and Presidential Library fits in well with at this campus. Millie the dog, George and Barbara's pet during the White House years, is buried near the plots where the former president and first lady will one day be interred. While this seems bizarre to many people, Aggies are used to holding dogs in such high esteem. Just ask any student about the Reveille graves.
Since the new school is practically in its own zip code, students will have to work harder to integrate the new program into the unique A&M experience.
After listening to the speakers who came to help dedicate the Bush School, it seems that Aggies are in danger of conforming to the addition, instead of making the addition part of Aggieland. The lecturers hosted by the Bush School seem unfamiliar with this University and the traits that make it special.
To make the integration a little easier, here are a few suggestions for anyone speaking at Texas A&M:
1. Begin every speech with a hearty "Howdy." It's friendly, it shows you know you are at a unique location, and if you've never spoken here before, you may be surprised by the response this greeting receives.
2. Never criticize the football team. This should not be a problem this year, since the Aggies are on their way to becoming conference champions, but speakers should know that the football team is sacred.
3. Other topics to avoid include the health of our mascot, the Fish Drill Team and on-campus parking. It's safe to discuss religion and politics.
4. Yankees should be aware that those wildflowers you know as "bluebells" are called "bluebonnets" here in the great state of Texas.
5. Never tell the audience that you are going to be brief. It's amusing to hear a nationally famous speaker who has been anticipated for months begin by saying his speech will be short. As the speaker, you are the sole reason audience members donned a tie, walked across campus and arrived thirty-minutes early. They want to hear you talk. Don't let them down. Even in those instances where brevity is appreciated, don't waste the audience's time telling them you won't waste the audience's time.
6. The University president's last name is Bowen. The name bears little resemblance to an Illinois town called Bolin.
7. You may hear a few unusual noises from the audience. Don't be alarmed. The sound that resembles an owl is actually a "Whoop." It can be roughly translated as applause, and it means the audience agrees with you or appreciated the last joke. The noise that sounds like a tire going flat is a friendly way of expressing disagreement. Its technical name is a "hiss" or a "Horse Laugh." Be aware that these sentiments may not be directed at the speaker. When George Bush spoke at commencement several years ago he seemed hurt when the Aggies were actually "hissing" a heckler who was being escorted out.
Having explored the essential rules for campus speakers, the audience should realize they have a few responsibilities as well:
1. Don't be intimidated. Feel free to shout "Howdy," "Whoop" or "Hiss" as circumstances allow. This is Texas A&M. Show some Aggie spirit.
2. If questions are allowed, that means the audience is supposed to ask questions, and the speakers are supposed to provide answers. This is not an opportunity for audience members to launch into a diatribe, complain about the air-conditioning or say "hello" to mom. If you ask a question, you should listen to the speech first. Don't embarrass yourself by asking something that was already addressed. It is not unwise to write down your question before walking to the microphone.
3. Enjoy yourself. The Bush School is an exciting addition to A&M, and its opening is a unique opportunity for all students. Attend these programs, go listen to speakers. This is not just a chance to wear a tie, but a way to collect great stories to tell the grandkids.
Dave Johnston is a senior mathematics major.