Traditions more important than individuals involved
Texas A&M University is well-known for rich history and strong traditions, attracting students from around the world because of its unity.
Over time, Aggies have gained new traditions and witnessed the death of old ones. Whether we like to admit it, our traditions are fragile. They are subject to changing attitudes and fluctuating cultural climates.
Traditions do vanish, but we are not always sad to see them go. In the early 70's, the student body enjoyed a time-honored tradition called "Quadding." Whenever a student earned a perfect score on a test, had a birthday or received a "Dear John" letter from his girlfriend, his friends would subject him to what now is considered hazing. A typical Quadding might involve dragging a student around campus in a mattress casing or leaving the individual a few miles from his residence hall, wearing nothing except a large sheet.
The loss of this tradition has not devastated campus. Most would argue its removal has improved the University environment.
While some traditions, like saying "howdy," are on the verge of extinction, new ones are continually developing. Ring-dunking, as well as Whoopstock, are recent developments. Despite this natural cycle of out with the old and in with the new, A&M still has a rich legacy which will continue far beyond many college careers.
A tradition lasts as long as students cherish it. About thirty years ago, the Student Senate decided women were eligible to the Yell Leader elections. While a major decision, the institution of Yell Leaders remains unchanged because the student body wants to maintain a status quo. However, if students lose interest in a tradition, nothing can revive it. Student Senate, the Board of Regents or the U.S. Congress cannot force students to say "Howdy!" to each other.
For this reason, current debate over election run offs may be a pivotal movement for future Yell Leaders.
Some current Yell Leaders including Chris Torn and Jimbo Cross have hinted they may separate their elections from the rest of the student body if forced to hold run offs. While this move may have no impact on the general state of affairs, it is possible students will view the action as childish and arrogant. When Cross said, "We can make this a political issue if we want to," he presented himself as an opponent to the student body. If students lose respect for Yell Leaders, or begin to resent them, the effects could be devastating.
Yell Leaders must realize they serve the students. They should respond to a changing student body, be flexible and accommodate the student body to a reasonable degree. When the student body speaks overwhelmingly in favor of a change as minor as run off elections, Yell Leaders can only hurt themselves by turning a deaf ear.
Unfortunately, this view may pass to other Yell Leaders who are truly concerned for A&M and its students.
Aggies love their Yell Leaders. These hard working students are fine representatives of our University, showing an enormous amount of school spirit. Run-off elections are a small issue, and students want to have Yell Leaders far into the future. However, if they are unwilling to grow with the University, they may be left behind.