Aggie unity brings student body into close-knit family
"We may have been outscored, but we've never been beat." All good Ags shout some version of this mantra whenever the Men of Kyle "run out of time" before they can rack up more points than their opponents.
When students hear this sentiment today, they think the speaker is arrogantly refusing to admit defeat, but its original meaning was much different.
Aggies have always maintained a sense of camaraderie. Whenever football fans from another school came to campus, the contrast was stunning. Because of their unity and loyalty to their school, Aggies were able to score a moral victory at every football game.
T-sips were considered inferior fans. They yelled at their own players, threw trash and went home early -- even when they were winning. On the other hand, Aggies demonstrated their dedication to the team and the school. Students stood throughout the game, supported the team and stayed to the end (and sang a song together) regardless of whether or not their team had more points on the scoreboard.
Aggies have held a reputation for unity. Current and former students gather to sing how they are "as true to each other as Aggies can be." Unfortunately, some indicators hint that the student body may be less unified now than it was in the past.
Today our football fans are fickle. They leave the game early, because beating the traffic is more important than exhibiting a little Aggie Spirit. Students berate the fellow Ag who won't "uncover" during the yells. When the team loses a few games, the fans complain about the coach, shout at the players from the stands and quit showing up altogether.
Judging by the people in the stands, it looks as if the Aggies have been losing even the games the football team won. Those moral victories, those demonstrations of close-knit Aggie Spirit, are becoming more infrequent each season.
There are several factors contributing to the decline in Aggie unity. The campus and the student body are both much larger than they used to be. One political science professor jokingly welcomed his class to the "Bush School located on the California campus of Texas A&M." With the sprawling campus, students do not even share a common environment. While many Aggies never venture on to West Campus, others never wander East of the railroad tracks.
It is difficult for students to share a feeling of community when they do not even share common landmarks or buildings.
The University now has one of the largest undergraduate populations in the nation. It is difficult to maintain a family atmosphere among 40,000 people.
Professor Stadelmann, Director of Religious Studies, suggests that the death of the Aggie joke has detracted from the unity of the student body. When Aggie jokes were more popular, the Aggies were an alliance against the rest of the world. Now that the jokes are less frequent, there is no common enemy for the students to unite against.
As the University continues to grow in vision, it attracts a more varied student body, which makes unity more difficult. People from different backgrounds can achieve unity by sharing goals, traditions and interests, but the University officials prefer to concentrate on diversity. Instead of accentuating diversity, perhaps officials should focus on common ties the students share.
If A&M will retain its unique reputation for a unified student body, students must purpose to regain their sense of camaraderie. Aggies should not determine their school's value by football teams, or anything else they cannot control. Instead they should invest themselves in improving their school by contributing to the student body's unity. Each student should focus on the similarities they have with their fellow Aggies. Maybe this will be the first step toward being "as true to each other as Aggies can be."
Dave Johnston is a senior mathematics major.