Most individuals attend college to obtain an education and to prepare them for their professional future. Between matriculation and graduation, friendships are made, hijinx are enjoyed and memories that will last a lifetime are collected.
...and then there are the students of Texas A&M.
Since obtaining an education was second to the reform school aspect of Texas A&M for most of the first century of Texas A&M's existence, aggy students have always placed an out-sized importance of what they refer to as their "other education," that being the cult-like "traditions" that dictate what behavior was deemed acceptable and unacceptable in the conformity-driven aggy culture.
The oversized adherence "tradition" has long been a point of frustration to the small band of intellectual TAMU alumni. A 1953 university publication contains a letter from an early 1900s graduate of the school who lamented how the conformity-driven culture stunted intellectual growth:
A&M students lack the democratic ideal of open and free discussion, by which to shape decisions. They are moved by mob psychology. Even their leaders fail to understand that a mob acts only with the intelligence of the least intelligent of the group.
The same A&M alumnus wrote:
It is really going to take a philosopher to unravel A&M's traditions and present them without bias. It would be wonderful if A&M's traditions could be regarded as the back sight of an engineer's transit: "Here's where we were;" then flip the telescope over and say, "Here's where we are going."
- 1 "Tradition" or "Turdition"?
- 2 What is an "Aggie"
- 3 Freshmen undergrads are called "fish"
- 4 "Code of Honor"
- 5 Gig 'Em
- 6 Howdy
- 7 Whoop!
- 8 Yell Leaders
- 9 The Corps
- 10 Squeeeeze, Ags!
- 11 Midnight Yell
- 12 Word Restrictions
- 13 aggy Rings
- 14 Jizz Jar
- 15 Bonfire
- 16 Walking on the grass
- 17 UNCOVER!
- 18 "Glory holes" on campus
- 19 "Two Percenter"
- 20 References
"Tradition" or "Turdition"?
To most people, the word "tradition" means something like this:
noun tra·di·tion \trə-ˈdi-shən\
- - a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time
- - the stories, beliefs, etc., that have been part of the culture of a group of people for a long time
- - used to say that someone has qualities which are like the qualities of another well-known person or group of people from the past
Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary
To aggy, "turditions" are a way of life...
To aggy, if something happens once, it is a fluke. If it happens twice, it's a coincidence. If it happens three times, or involves farm animals in any way, it's a gol-darned turdition!
Just because something is considered a "tradition" on the campus of Texas A&M, doesn't mean it actually happened. In fact, time after time, what is represented on the Texas A&M campus as being a tradition is found to be a tortured embellishment, or an outright lie. University archivist David Brooks Cofer's works contain numerous instances referencing the school's "lies of tradition" or "the lying traditions."
It is because so many of Texas A&M historically untrue and outright fabricated "traditions" are ignorantly worshiped as historical fact that they are mocked as "turditions." For every false aggy version of their turditions, there is corresponding, historically accurate version that the A&M supporters either are clueless about, or deny out of extreme embarrassment.
This page will be a repository (pun intended) for all of the strange, gross, seemingly unbelievable, and sometimes downright scary aggy turditions. And yes, what you are about to read is true. These are the actual stories behind the culture of Texas A&M University.
What is an "Aggie"
"Aggie" is the term used to describe supporters of Texas A&M University who adhere to the normal conventions of society. An "aggie" is not one and the same as "aggy." The two terms are not interchangeable.
In the early years of Texas A&M University, the school's students were informally referred to as "the farmers." The term "Aggie" was not formally adopted by the school as their school nickname until 1949.
In fact, in the early 1900s, the term "aggie" was used by students on the Texas A&M campus to mock and ridicule students who were struggling academically and who were "of the lower tier." In the early years, the use of the term term "aggie" was considered a "regrettable tradition" whose use hurt the school's reputation.
As explained by Sam McMillan, A&M Class of 1909:
In the early 1900s ag students were called "bug hunters" or "buck hunters" (in imitation of a German boy's accent). Engineering students at the school considered themselves above the ag students, because if they failed as an engineering student, they could continue at the school and graduate as a "buck hunter" or "aggie."
Freshmen undergrads are called "fish"
First year undergrads at Texas A&M are not referred to as "freshmen" as they are called at actual academic institutions. At Texas A&M, they are called "fish." This dates back to the early 1900s when students stepping off the train for the first time at the "College Station" were met with yells of "Fish, fish."
Yelling, "fish, fish...here's another fish" was how the seasoned inmates of the Texas state prison system in the early 1900s greeted newly incarcerated prisoners. Its use was adopted by the Texas A&M students as their greeting for new students arriving on campus. The term remains in use to this day.
"Code of Honor"
“An Aggie does not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those who do.”
... except aggy does (lie about their history), does (cheat incessantly), does (steal turditions and valor), and does (tolerate and promote the continued undeserved glorification that is aggy).
There are so many aggy that think this "code" was started by aggy, owned by aggy, and that no one else has ever thought of promoting these high and lofty goals.
Probably the greatest irony about the aggy Code of Honor is that aggy stole it from the cadets at West Point, and if you ask an aggy if this is true, they will lie and say "no."
The difference between the "Code of Honor" at A&M the honor codes of other institutions is that students at *real* Military Academies are committed living up to these standards.
Senior VP false education and military service claims
A perfect example is the story of a former aggy Senior VP for Administration, Alexander Kemos, who was hired in March of 2009 with a lofty resume, including a claim of a doctoral degree from Tufts University and impressive experience as a former Navy SEAL. Not shockingly, aggy didn't do their homework ahead of time and it turns out that Mr. Kemos had neither of these claims. To aggy credit, he resigned "to spend more time with his family", but only after it was investigated, discovered, and made public.
Falsely quoting Patton
Another example is the annoying aggy tendency to claim false valor by associating themselves with *true* valorous heroes... like General George Patton. The following phrase, FALSELY attributed to Gen. Patton, has been found on several aggy t-shirts over the years:
“Give me an army of West Point graduates, and I’ll win a battle. Give me a handful of Texas Aggies, and I’ll win a war.”
Even level-headed aggy journalists (a minority population, to be sure), have called "Barbra Streisand" on this.
Mike Province, however, isn't so sure that Patton ever uttered the words. As founder and president of The Patton Society, Province owns every General Patton book, magazine, movie, poster and voice recording in existence. He has penned three Patton books of his own, and he estimates that his collection of Patton memorabilia is the second largest in the world, only behind that of the Patton family themselves.
"I've gotten e-mails and questions regarding that quote for several years," Province said. "People will use it with Texas Aggies, The Citadel, Virginia Military Institute and even Clemson. All of these schools want to be linked to Patton."
Province has hunted specifically for the quotation for years, but has yet to uncover any evidence connecting it to Patton."I've even gone to the Library of Congress and looked through the Patton Papers when they were released in 1990," Province said. "I've yet to see that statement written down with any specific date or time."
An aggy will substitute the phrase "Gig 'em" for almost any word or phrase, including, "hello," "good morning," "excuse me," "yay!," "I'm hungry," and "I think I've had too much to drink."
Every aggy knows exactly what message is being conveyed by another aggy who uses the phrase "gig 'em." To the outside world, their use of the word should be taken as a general warning of heightened awareness.
If the phrase "gig 'em" is followed by a loud "whoop" (more on this later), the sense of awareness can generally be relaxed as this is believed to be a sort of friendly greeting among members of the aggy species. If the individual simply says "gig 'em" with any whoop or other general utterance, DO NOT let down your guard until and unless the aggy has safely passed you by. If in doubt, utter "whoop!" and make no sudden movements.
"Howdy" is a general colloquial greeting used by aggy. The use of "howdy" to greet visitors and fellow aggy has been part of the aggy culture since since the early 1960s when the tradition was widely practiced on the TCU campus in Ft. Worth.
While not nearly as friendly a campus as the TCU campus today, the aggy use of of the "borrowed" phrase "Howdy" is widely accepted as a sign of aggy friendliness... especially when you don't respond, and aggy gets all riled up and yells "HOWDY DAMNIT!"
"Whoop" is an aggy peculiarity much the same as the aggy use of the phrase "gig 'em." "Whoop" is rarely a word used by aggy to convey a single specific message, much as the calls of monkeys, orangutans and other similarly less evolved species are not believed to convey specific messages. "Whoop" can mean "Hello, I am here, I see you," to which the other aggy will respond with a "whoop" saying "Yes, I see you." "Whoop" can be an utterance given to relate general state of excitement.
Alternatively, when a group of aggy begins to "whoop" in unison, it can mean "Wow, we aggy are not really much evolved from our primate brethren, are we?" This is often the case during aggy football games and weddings. aggy are known to whoop at sporting events, weddings, in church (yes, really), at funerals (again, really), during court proceedings, while copulating (assumption made here), when walking out of the restroom, and, at times, for no good reason at all.
It is not unusual in more rural parts of Texas to hear aggy calling "whoop" to try to locate another member of the cult. When a member of the aggy cult hears a solitary "whoop" they will respond enthusiastically with a "whoop" of their own and the two individuals will seek each other out and begin to jump up and down, scratch themselves and excitedly "whoop" together for the next few minutes. If one sees this behavior DO NOT APPROACH aggy WHILE THEY ARE PERFORMING THIS RITUAL!
Overly excited aggy have been known to bite those who interrupt their primitive rituals. Unlike a dog bite, the bite of an aggy is extremely unsanitary and can lead to serious medical complications.
Although the A&M school newspaper makes clear reference to the school's "yell leaders" before 1907, aggys claim their Yell Leader tradition dates to 1907.
According to A&M lore, aggy were being soundly defeated (as usual) and a large number of women who had taken the train from Texas Woman's University in Denton were threatening to leave. The upperclassmen ordered the freshmen to find a way to keep the women entertained.
Several freshmen sneaked into a maintenance closet and changed into white coveralls. They then began leading the crowd in yells and telling jokes from the track in front of the stands. It was an instant hit and was quickly incorporated into the gameday repertoire for aggy.
In typical aggy fashion, what started as a fun aspect of college life soon because elevated to a over-the-top display of "peacockery" that bore no resemblance to its origins.
Even though modern day cheerleading at many major institutions bears a resemblance to Olympic gymnastics, and the aggy yell leader athleticism is materially non-existent; in yet another instance of where aggy women are not allowed equal standing in campus life at A&M, women are not allowed to be yell leaders at the school.
What makes this so comical is that given the choice between cheerleading at almost any major university, or becoming an aggy yell leader, any woman wanting a challenging and rewarding experience would pick cheerleading at another school in a second.
See for your self how modern day aggy yell leaders warm up to energize the faithful for a college football game.
In the words of George Takei, who probably would really like this... "display" by a group of aggy wanting to be elected Yell Leaders:
... or this group of aggy "attempting humor" with an awkward recreation try of a movie scene from 14 years prior.
Most land-grant institutions outside of the South merely expected male students to participate in a few drills each week. The Southern land-grants, all of whom accepted the terms of the Morrill Act after the Civil War, embraced the military requirement enthusiastically and saw their college military programs as the continued embodiment of "The Lost Cause." Southern military programs were also used to maintain order at colleges that enrolled young, ill-prepared, farm boys. This was very much the case at Texas A&M.
To maintain order, the administrators of A&M decided membership in an all-civilian, military-style fraternity, styled the "Corps of Cadets" would be mandatory. It wouldn't be long until the A&M Corps of Cadets would devolve from a disciplinary unit into an undisciplined social fraternity.
Today's A&M Corps of Cadets continues the school's all-civilian, social fraternity corps tradition. The A&M Cadets is not today and never has been affiliated with the U.S. military. While the A&M Corps membership is close to 2,500 individuals, fewer than 200 cadets actually receive an officer's commission each year and enters the military upon graduation. Upon graduation, unlike at service academies, no member of the A&M Corps of Cadets has any military service obligation.
They grab their testicles through the crotch of their pants and squeeze their testicles as hard as they can.
How does anyone watching a college football game suddenly decide, out of the blue, to squeeze his testicles; and how do others see him doing it and say "Damn! That looks like fun!"?
Only in College Station, Texas.
To enforce conformity of thought and action during football season, the ags hold mass midnight rallies in their dimly-lit football stadium where the faithful enter, maintaining perfect order at all times. Tens of thousands can be in attendance. The leader stands on a podium on the field, in full view of the faithful. Following stirring speeches, the faithful display their loyalty by repeating chants and shouts of dedication to the greater glory of aggyland.
Like much of the aggy culture, this is something that must be seen to be believed. It is the kind of stuff most people only read about in history books.
First Amendment? What First Amendment? There are actually words and phrases that aggy are not allowed to say, based on the amount of brain-washing time they've actually been on campus.
Vocabulary is also restricted by class. Freshmen may not say the word Pisshead, a nickname for sophomores. Juniors are known as "Serge Butts", so neither freshmen nor sophomores can say any form of either word (accordingly, words such as "button" must be replaced with roundabout euphemisms, such as "circular fastener"). Juniors are also the first class to be allowed to say "Whoop!" Seniors, known as "Zips" for the black and gold braid on their garrison caps, which resembles a zipper, have reserved the word elephant and all forms of the words "death," "dying," "shoot," or "reload" in reference to the traditions surrounding Elephant Walk. However, saying the phrases "pass away," "decease," "fire," "load again," etc., are all acceptable substitutes. Students caught "pulling out", or saying words that are reserved for other classes, are forced to "push." Traditionally, this means the students must do a "class set" of pushups, one for each year of their class. The Class of 1945 did only 45 pushups and an extra pushup has been added for each subsequent year; the Fighting Texas Aggie Class of 2012 now does 112. Pulling out privileges of the class directly above is considered "Good Bull", but pulling out two classes or more is "Bad Bull." Members of the Corps of Cadets generally take privileged words more seriously than non-reg students.
Personally I think they're all a bunch of "Pissheads" whose parents should have "pulled out" many years ago.
The aggy class ring is an important part of aggy culture. Although outside the Amish, ags are probably the most self-identfying culture in America, there are the few who leave the state of Texas, modify their dress and appearance to reflect modern society, and life in the outside world.
aggy in the outside world have learned not much of the aggy culture fits in well with modernity. Rarely do aggy on airplanes reach down on take-off and mercilessly squeeze their testicles to create a sense of unity-in-effort with the pilots. Not often outside of Texas will you see misplaced aggy in t-shirt business attire (with white socks and black shoes, of course) walking down the streets of out major cities calling "Whoop!" in attempts to locate fellow aggy.
But if you are ever outside Texas and you hear unexplained, excited "whoop"-ing reminiscent of two Everglades cranes during rutting season, you can bet an aggy has spied someone wearing an aggy class ring.
The aggy class ring is the prime visual identifier of aggy who seek to blend into society at large. Most people in modern society choose to wear modest jewelry. Outside of Jersey mobsters and aggy, men especially wear little jewelry other than their wedding rings. But with aggy, like everything they do, the aggy class ring is over-the-top.
Sized like a Frederick Remington sculpture and as subtle as a ring-sized brick, the aggy class ring is something unmistakable.
An important aspect to the Texas A&M class ring is "Ring Day." This is the day when class rings that have been ordered are all delivered at once. The rings are distributed in an elaborate, ritualized production held at the on-campus alumni center. Managed with efficiency eerily reminiscent of an Wehrmacht induction ceremony, attendees are required to obtain tickets and are assigned 15 minute windows in which to present themselves to receive their ring.
Upon receiving their school class rings, aggys engage in mass binge drinking sessions, usually involving large quantities of beer, but always consumed as quickly as possible. Seriously. No congratulatory assembly, no blessing of the ring. No actual mature activity that reflects on academia or achieving a life goal. Upon completion of 90 hours of classwork (regardless to whether any of it actually is bringing a student closer to obtaining any particular degree), aggy students become eligible to obtain their class ring. Upon obtaining their class rings, aggys just binge drink until they black out.
The aggy class ring doesn't actually reflect an individual's graduation date. The date on the ring is what their projected graduation year would have if they had graduated "on time." If an undergrad student first enrolled in the fall of 2015, their class ring would reflect their being in the class of 2019. If the student graduated early, in 2018, they would still be in the aggy class of 2019. If the student didn't graduate until 2025, they would still be a member of the aggy class of 2019. If the student took one class and dropped out, never taking another class for the rest of their life, they would forever be a member of the aggy class of 2019, in spite of the fact the individual never actually obtained a college education.
This, because obtaining a college education isn't the goal of students who attend Texas A&M. "Becoming an aggy" is considered much more important in aggy culture than obtaining a college education. Which is the reason there are so many aggys holding college degrees, and wearing aggy class rings, but lacking college educations.
One of the aggy turditions many people don't believe to be true (but was in fact verified by Texas Monthly magazine) is the aggy practice of group masturbation into a communal Mason jar on the evening prior to rivalry football games.
No one really wants to know how, why or when this practice started. Male aggy go together into a room, get naked and watch each other ejaculate into a Mason jar and then pass the jar to the guy next to them so he take take his turn. Usually, this was done the night before the game with A&M's hated rival, The University of Texas Longhorns. The jar would then be taken to a campus bonfire and set atop the stack to burn.
Whenever anyone visits the aggy campus for a football game, or even watches one on television, keep in mind the aggy cult has many, many bizarre traditions and rituals. They aren't like most college alumni.
Starting in 1909, A&M students built bonfires in advance of their annual football team against their hated rival, The University of Texas Longhorns. The bonfire started simply as a way to stay warm during the student pep rally on the night before the annual Thanksgiving Day football game against The University of Texas Longhorns. Between 1909 and about 1927, the aggy bonfire remained nothing more than a way for aggys to stay warm during their pre-Thanksgiving Day game pep rally. Freshmen were charged with the responsibility of building and maintaining the annual bonfire. Over time, each freshman class sought to one-up the preceding freshman class and bonfire grew in size each year. Starting in the late 1920s, the aggy bonfire took on increased significance. Participation in the efforts to cut and stack logs for the bonfire became a primary way for the members of all-male student body to demonstrate their manliness to each other. By 1943, the aggy bonfire had grown in both size and importance that the student newspaper described the annual bonfire as "the greatest event of the football season, with the exception of the Turkey Day battle itself."
Never ones to pass up an opportunity to interject bizarre behavior into an otherwise normal situation, beginning in 1947, freshmen on campus involved in building the bonfire were required to wear lipstick and rouge and to skip to classes like little school girls. In 1953, the school administrators ordered an end to this idiotic behavior. One freshman wrote a letter to the editor of the school paper claiming the right to skip and wear makeup, and thereby earn "the privilege of saying we are True Aggies." Seriously. They really acted this way.
Up until 1942, the bonfire was a pile of scrap lumber, dead trees and fallen limbs. All too often, the "scrap lumber" consisted of wood "foraged" by the freshman cadets, often without the knowledge or consent of its owners (yet another example of how the aggy Honor Code claiming aggys do not lie, cheat or steal has never been respected by aggys. aggys have proven time and time again they will steal anything they can get their hands on). "Foraging" was part of the sustained hazing to which all freshmen were subject, and it allowed each freshman class to demonstrate its loyalty through determination and the risk of being caught stealing by irate property owners. Because each freshman class was attempting to prove that it deserved to join the "aggy brotherhood," the quantity of wood gathered tended to increase with time. This initiation ritual certainly enhanced cadets’ sense of membership, but the collection and construction techniques did not require carefully coordinated effort, and the small and irregular dimensions of the lumber had limited the potential for vertical growth of the bonfire stack.
From 1942 to 1952, the construction technique was a conical sheath of logs, supported by a scrap wood core. The change in 1942 was made because the bonfire that year was built as a prop for a wartime film being shot on the aggy campus by Universal Studios. One significant aspect of the change in design was that it was now possible to radically increase the height of the stack. By 1949, students on campus claimed their bonfire was the world's largest (tallest, and certainly not safest) bonfire. Starting in 1953, the theft of property to fuel the aggy bonfire was ended and construction was entirely of fresh cut logs. No outside professional assistance was used to design or construct the logpile. Eventually, the undertaking changed from being exclusively managed by freshmen, to an exercise that included every able-bodied student on campus. Over time, the aggy bonfire would grow to contain as many as 8,000 logs, stand up to 109 feet tall and require 700 gallons of diesel fuel to ignite. The burning of the bonfire would draw crowds of up to 70,000 spectators. Construction of the bonfire could require up to 125,000 man-hours of labor, all supplied by students.
With the ever larger bonfire stack, safety concerns began to surface. In 1954 a student working on the project was first reported hospitalized; 1955 saw the first fatality; after 1959 cartoons depicting injuries became a regular fall feature in the student newspaper. In the 1970s, limits were placed on the height and diameter of the bonfire. As construction designs changed and the wedding cake design was implemented, the fact that no limits were placed on overall volume of wood meant the upper tiers became increasingly larger in diameter. This meant the stack was increasingly top heavy and increasingly unstable with each passing year. Since building the bonfire was a student run endeavor, no professional evaluation was ever performed on how changes in design affected the stability and integrity of the structure.
Larger bonfires and increasing safety risks were signs the entire bonfire tradition was undergoing significant changes that only became apparent over time. In the 1960s, admission of women on campus and the end of mandatory ROTC participation meant a smaller and smaller percentage of the student body participated in assembling the bonfire each year. Bonfire morphed from an activity to an event. By the 1980s, for most students on campus, the annual bonfire was just a three hour beer bash. By 1982, students showed up, watched it burn and then staggered away to parties and bars. The smell of beer and thousands of drunks were very much part of the event. Editorials in the campus newspaper joked that the event was simply "a good excuse to get drunk" and that "alcoholic spirits" did as much as Aggie spirit to rouse the crowd. In 1987 the director of campus police described the annual events as "drunken orgies." In 1989 bus service to the fire site from off-campus apartments was discontinued because too many riders were drunk and unruly. There had always been alcohol, and even drunkenness, at the bonfire, but the "wild drunken party" was new, part of the far larger alcoholic student culture. The aggy bonfire was no longer even remotely related to the origins of the tradition the students claimed to be perpetuating.
As explained by Texas A&M professor Johnathan Smith,
After the Second World War the commitment of university administrators to economic and technological progress increasingly threatened the narrative of tradition and the cultivation of manliness. Student veneration of Bonfire intensified. After 1965 mandatory military drill was discontinued, women were enrolled, and the student body was enlarged. Social pluralism fragmented the meaning of Bonfire; conflict and disorderly behavior ensued. By the 1990s the university had partly rationalized Bonfire as a corporate symbol; however, this trend was tragically terminated in 1999 when the cumulative errors of the oral tradition caused Bonfire to collapse, killing twelve students.
While the aggy bonfire started out as a way for students to stay warm at a pre-game pep rally and grew in size over the years, it was the spate of post-WWII cultural changes that brought the greatest change to the aggy bonfire tradition:
Due to the rationalized changes of the 1960s—the admittance of women and the elimination of compulsory membership in the Corps of Cadets—participation in the cutting and stacking of Bonfire took on a great deal more significance than it had in previous years. As the school began to change, it effectively splintered into two separate institutions— the first bureaucratic and academic and the second vivacious and transcendent. Students naturally identified with one or the other, and since enrollment in the university could no longer be equated with dedication to tradition, "true Aggies" proved their authenticity by building and burning Bonfire, one of the most thrilling and enduring symbols of their commitment to the A&M of myth and legend. At the same time, and with equal energy, Bonfire culture began to change, slowly devolving into what Tang (2000) describes as a betrayal the Aggie Spirit itself:
"the culture of violence; the sexual discrimination, harassment and violence against women; the 'boys will be boys' attitude; the suppression of dissent and intolerance of nontraditional viewpoints; the historical racism; and the repeated need to validate manhood by any means necessary have not only betrayed the tradition of Bonfire as a unifying force, but have also alienated and betrayed even those members of Aggieland who believe in the Aggie Spirit."
The escalating violence and vulgarity of Bonfire culture was a direct result of the school's "paradoxical commitments to tradition and instrumental rationality," a product of being caught in the unnavigable, inhospitable combat zone between doctrine and reason. Certainly, this tension explains the authority of tradition and the earnestness of students' devotion, but it stops short of revealing why students began acting inappropriately instead of just adhering more strictly or redoubling their dedication. Tension alone does not explain bad behavior.
In response to perceived threats, students began ritualizing their way of life, turning tradition from a functional good—"the way things are"—into a sacred one—"the way things have always been." When this did not disable but rather strengthened the forces of change, students retreated even further into the world of effervescence and communitas, which filled the needs of community and identity at a stage of life when young men and women experienced for the first time the thrilling and bewildering freedom of a truly liminal space. When Bonfire culture took a turn for the worse, it reflected students' ever-more-radical commitment to the indescribable place they had found in the world, as individuals, as adults, and as Aggies. This place—and all the tensions central to it—had become a part of the self.Thus, cutting, stacking, and burning Bonfire was not merely an effort to prove and vivify the Aggie Spirit but also an effort to prove and vivify the self, which turned the tradition from a purely cooperative enterprise into a theater of deadly serious, intensely meaningful performances of identity. These performances created a shell beneath which the individual's truest and most fragile self was protected—but as shells bumped up against one another, taking and inflicting social damage, individuals were motivated to protect themselves with even thicker and more bombastic performances. Once inflated, absurdity and aggression were normalized and institutionalized. Bad behavior became a central—even essential— accelerant for the towering pyre.
The 1999 aggy bonfire was constructed under a number of restrictions to correct previous structural failures as well as to promote general safety considerations. However, according to a report authored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, by the night of November 18, 1999, the stack of logs that was reported to have been forty feet tall was in fact already 59 feet high and had two more levels to go before being completed. The bonfire was not being built to an agreed upon height of 55 feet set by the university. Rather, a unilateral decision had been made by the students managing the project to build it higher than agreed upon, to a height just over seventy feet.
During the evening of November 18-19, 1999 the stack collapsed, killing 12 students and injuring an additional 27. After investigations by university, state and federal officials, the facts of the collapse were ascertained and it was decided that the tradition of an on-campus bonfire would come to an end.
While this was an unsafe and borderline criminally negligent school-sponsored (or at least implicitly sanctioned) activity, the 1999 Bonfire accident was a tragic loss of student life. Longhorn faithful were quick to express their concern and condolences for their fellow Texans. The Longhorn Band, performing at Kyle Field that year, gave a tear-inducing performance of "Amazing Grace". The aggy band, of course, took their usual cheap shots at Texas.
As time progresses, the aggy alumni would call for a reinstatement of the aggy bonfire tradition on the school's campus, but their calls were for a reinstatement of the drunken, redneck, safety-be-damned Bacchanalia "bonfire" had become, not for a reinstatement of the origins of the actual bonfire traditions. Understandably, school administrators and law enforcement officials have refused to permit the drunken aggy bonfire "tradition" to be conducted on campus.
Walking on the grass
Enforced conformity of and limitation of one's freedoms are some of the main attributes of the aggy culture and the Texas A&M college experience. aggy students are taught to rigidly enforce their behavior code, even in he most absurd situations. At Texas A&M, grassy areas on campus are for students to use for relaxation, studying or in recreational pursuits with other students. The A&M campus is known for being one of the largest college campuses in the nation. It is also known for being one of the least attractive.
Poor soil and a general lack of funds for proper maintenance has made much of the Texas A&M campus a dusty, barren wasteland. Students relax by laying in the dirt, study while laying in the dirt, and have only industrial drainage ditches as water features to add beauty to their campus. What little grass the university has been able to grow has been dedicated a military shrine. No person is allowed to walk on Texas A&M military shrine grass.
The great military tradition of the United States is one of service and sacrifice to preserve our nation's freedoms. Arlington National Cemetery, the resting place of many of our fallen national heroes, does not restrict walking on the grass. On our nation's battlefields, all sites where Americans gave their final measure of devotion, walking on the grass is not restricted. At Texas A&M University, where rigidity of behavior is strictly enforced and freedoms are severely restricted, walking on the grass is not permitted.
Just as enforced conformity of and limitation of one's freedoms are some of the main attributes of the aggy culture with respect to what grass students and visitors can and cannot walk on without being berated by civilian college students in Michael Jackson-esque military-style uniforms, rules regarding the wearing of hats on the Texas A&M campus are also rigidly enforced.
Hat wearing rules are confusing to even long time visitors to the aggy campus, mostly because they seem designed only to give civilian students wearing uniforms an opportunity to berate random individuals for no real reason.
If you ever visit the A&M campus and you decide to wear a hat, be prepared to have a student wearing a Spanish-American War-style uniform run up to you and, for no identifiable reason, and with spittle flying, scream "UNCOVER!" They are telling you that you have violated the Texas A&M Hat Code. Just prepare yourself.
"Glory holes" on campus
Long-suspected aggy activities were actually reported by the on-campus newspaper, The Battallion:
A hole different world. Underneath the noses of unsuspecting students, anonymous sex is occurring in buildings across campus.
A quick search through the personals section of Craigslist might reveal more of this world than readers care to know. The use of study rooms in Evans for sex is better known, but these activities spillover into every corner of the University. To truly realize the extent of what goes on behind closed doors, visit the men's bathroom on the second floor of the Academic Building.
A casual observer might never notice the walls separating the bathroom stalls across campus are made of incredibly hard material, largely stainless steel or some form of faux marble. But a few weeks ago, the walls of the aforementioned bathroom were replaced with thick plastic. In a shorter period of time a large 8" hole along with several smaller peep-holes have been cut and melted into the walls. As early as the eighties, anonymous public sex has been happening on campus, and a lot of it. Even older generations of Aggies know about the reports and rumors about various places on campus being used for public anonymous sex.
This article has since been scrubbed from The Battallion (not at all shocking - as aggy censors anything they can that makes aggy look bad... a full-time job!), but Archive.org leaps to the rescue once again, proving that "nothing on the Internet can ever truly be deleted".
The Houston Press, in an awesomely titled article, picked upon the story, too:
Hole-A-Balloo, Kaneck Kaneck: Aggie Journalist Wonders Why A&M Is Riddled With Glory Holes
... Shortly after we posted this story about a Houston-based ATF agent with what is believed to be a custom-built glory hole in his New Orleans-area hotel room, alert reader "Autumn" tipped us off to "A Hole Different World," a recent editorial in The Battalion, the campus newspaper at Texas A&M.
In it, Aggie pundit Richard Creecy lamented what he sees as a shocking number of glory holes in Aggieland.
"Most Aggies pride themselves on the aesthetic appeal of campus. Both antiquated and modernly designed buildings are surrounded by large open cobblestone walkways and courtyards dotted with old growth trees, at least for now," writes Creecy.
That dubious proposition about the majesty of the A&M campus out of the way, he moves on to the heart of the matter: "But this lovely campus has a dark side some will find hard to swallow. Often as most students go about their business, illicit and anonymous sex occurs publicly in the very buildings we call home."
The subsequent Editor's Note may have been the funniest part of that:
Editor's note: Is it really possible to use the phrase "hard to swallow" unknowingly in a glory-hole op-ed? Only in Aggieland.
aggy jokes just make themselves.
The rigidly enforced code of conformity in behavior, action and thought at Texas A&M unquestionably only appeals to a certain type of narrow-minded individual. However, Texas A&M has, and still does, attract a small number of open-minded, intelligent individuals who believe working toward a college degree is an intellectual and educational exercise, not four years to be spent having others decide what is an acceptable manner for someone to think or act. These A&M students who fall outside the norm of the school's culture are derided and often shunned by aggy faculty, students and administrators. They are derisively called "The two percenters" because they comprise but 2% of the aggy student population.
The "two percenter" is the A&M graduate who is well educated, respectful, tolerant of others and generally enjoyable to socialize with. They tend to be far more successful in life than the majority of aggy. They are the doctors; lawyers; teachers; and neighbors who attended A&M, not to be forced into a rigid social structure leaving few opportunities for development as an individual, but because the school was affordable; conveniently located; and quite often because they didn't qualify for admission to The University of Texas.
More ardent aggy have long insisted these unwanted outsiders needed to have their student ID numbers tattooed on their left forearm and be required to wear clothing with readily-identifying symbols, but reasonable individuals (probably from the state Attorney General's office) have repeatedly pointed out that such government-imposed branding and marginalizing of "disloyals" was as misguided in early 1930s Bavaria as it would be in modern day aggyland.
- Fragments of early history of Texas A. and M. College.; David Brooks Cofer; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015067203722;view=1up;seq=5, p.88
- Fragments of early history of Texas A. and M. College.; David Brooks Cofer; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015067203722;view=1up;seq=5, p.89
- Fragments of early history of Texas A. and M. College.; David Brooks Cofer; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015067203722;view=1up;seq=5, p.79
- Fragments of early history of Texas A. and M. College.; David Brooks Cofer; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015067203722;view=1up;seq=5, p.81
- Fragments of early history of Texas A. and M. College.; David Brooks Cofer; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015067203722;view=1up;seq=5, p.84
- Fragments of early history of Texas A. and M. College.; David Brooks Cofer; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015067203722;view=1up;seq=5, p.84
- Second five administrators of Texas A. and M. College, 1890-1905.; Cofer, David Brooks.; p.41; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b34719;view=2up;seq=44
- Fragments of early history of Texas A. and M. College.; David Brooks Cofer; https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015067203722;view=1up;seq=5, p.80
- "Top A&M official quits after admitting resume lie", http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Top-A-M-official-quits-after-admitting-resume-lie-1601605.php
- Caufield, Emily Lynn; From The Inside Looking In - Tradition and Diversity at Texas A&M; Texas A&M Masters of Art Thesis, 2008; p.85
- Smith, Jonathan M; The Texas Aggie Bonfire: A Conservative Reading of Regional Narratives, Traditional Practices, and a Paradoxical Place.; Annals of the Association of American Geographers. Mar 2007, Vol. 97 Issue 1; p.188
- Smith, Jonathan M; The Texas Aggie Bonfire: A Conservative Reading of Regional Narratives, Traditional Practices, and a Paradoxical Place.; Annals of the Association of American Geographers. Mar 2007, Vol. 97 Issue 1; p.192
- Smith, Jonathan M; The Texas Aggie Bonfire: A Conservative Reading of Regional Narratives, Traditional Practices, and a Paradoxical Place.; Annals of the Association of American Geographers. Mar 2007, Vol. 97 Issue 1; p.196
- Tang, I. A. (2000). Texas Aggie Bonfire. Austin: Morgan Printing.
- Caufield, Emily Lynn; From The Inside Looking In - Tradition and Diversity at Texas A&M; Texas A&M Masters of Art Thesis, 2008; p.8s
- "A Hole Different World", The Battallion 12/8/2009 - via archive.org, https://web.archive.org/web/20100113004429/http://media.www.thebatt.com/media/storage/paper657/news/2009/12/08/Opinion/A.Hole.Different.World-3847440.shtml
- "Hole-A-Balloo, Kaneck Kaneck: Aggie Journalist Wonders Why A&M Is Riddled With Glory Holes", Houston Press, 12/10/2009, http://www.houstonpress.com/news/hole-a-balloo-kaneck-kaneck-aggie-journalist-wonders-why-aandm-is-riddled-with-glory-holes-6713306