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Some Great Things I Saw Tonight

So tonight I was at a protest my university (Texas A&M) was holding against Richard Spencer. Keep in mind that I was only there for about an hour because I had a final at 7 pm but this was going strong from about 3-9pm at LEAST. Anyway here’s some great things I witnessed first-hand:

- so so many black lives matter shirts

- trans voices matter shirts

- a lady who had to have been at least 90 with a rainbow sign

- a huge dude walking around with a boombox on his shoulder blaring MLK Jr’s I have a dream speech

- mY ANTHROPOLOGY PROFESSOR

- a sign that said “love may trump hate but I sure do f*cking hate Nazis” (that may have been my favorite all evening)

- a huge group of people in uniform, white and poc, holding signs that said “veterans against racism”

- I watched a guy dancing (very skillfully) with a Mexican flag around his shoulders for a solid minute before I realized hey that’s my friend

- people were in outrage because Spencer was speaking in the Memorial Student Center, which was built as a memorial for students who fought in WWII. There were a lot of signs yelling about that.

- two friends, one Jewish and one a black man, telling off one of the like five Nazis in the crowd

- people adapting traditional yells from football games for the protest purpose (BTHO Racism was popular) we used the pass-back signs and everything

- did I mention my anthropology professor was holding a sign that said “anthropologists for cultural diversity”

- a guy set up in the street playing old protest songs like “Ohio” on guitar

- so much drumming it was beautiful

- it was clear that this was a faculty-approved protest. I saw a lot of professors there with signs representing their departments with snazzy sayings. (Again, anthro was REPRESENTING they had a ton of people)

- like I said, some people had finals at 7 pm. They were lab finals, and for ochem alone that’s like 1,000 people. So a lot of people had to leave when I did, and they were passing signs to people they didn’t even know who were just showing up after their finals. We were like on shifts.

- while waiting in the building for them to let us into the test room, there were all these breathless people walking in shoving pride flags and Mexican flags and signs back into their bags and pulling out their books to cram because they blew off last minute studying to protest

- this is just what I saw with my own eyes. There’s a lot of great stuff on the campus snapchat story and things I’ve heard from friends. I know that only ~60 people showed up to hear spencer talk and of that group many were protesters that snuck in and stood silently with signs the entire time.

Yesterday Richard Spencer, a white nationalist and leader of the alt-right movement, spoke at my school, Texas A&M. There were several protests and counter protests going on, but my friend took this photo and sent it to me right before she was pushed to the ground by officers forcing protesters out of the building.

This picture was taken in the MSC, Memorial Student Center, a building erected to honor all Aggies, past, present and future, who gave their lives fighting for this country, many of whom fought to defeat the Nazis in WWII. But now, officers had to protect a man in that building who quotes Nazi rhetoric and promotes racism, fascism, and white supremacy.

I don’t like what the police officers had to do, and I’m sure they didn’t either. They used force but we’re not excessively violent.

There is a difference between the right to free speech and the right to spread racism. Rhetoric like Richard Spencer’s can’t be ignored.

These are troubling times. We must not ignore the signs. We must not let history repeat itself.

Photo credit: Emilie Foster

Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets preparing to march in the Downtown Rodeo Parade, Lamar Street, Houston, Feb. 27, 2016

It Starts with “Howdy” and Ends with “Here”.

Last week I packed up my things and said goodbye to my undergraduate career. Packing an entire house full of furniture and clothes from four years of college and putting it onto a U-Haul is stressful to say the least. Tomorrow I will no longer be a resident of Texas, and will begin my law school career in the Midwest. 

Building up to the big move, I was extremely excited to start a new chapter of my life.  The thought of living in a completely different area, hundreds of miles from home excites me; I definitely contracted the disease they call wanderlust.  Yet, as the night before moving from College Station approached, a looming sense of sadness took over. 

If you didn’t know, I am an extremely sentimental person; I find emotional value in a variety of things. For me, Texas A&M and College Station have aided in my development for four straight years. So, leaving a town and empty house was more like leaving an era; a piece of me.  If you’re Harry Potter literate, it’s as if I had made my own little Texas A&M horcrux. 

 If you don’t know anything about my alma mater, you might refer to it as a “cult” or just simply think we’re crazy fans. To be quite honest, I was once in your shoes, and then I experienced what the Aggies called “the Spirit that could ne’er be told” and I finally understood. This understanding is what made my time at A&M so full of deep relationships and personal growth. This “Spirit” is what taught me how to be connected with such a strong bond to over 50,000 people on one campus, and over 600,000 living alumni across the globe. This understanding is what causes me to write this, and what caused my tears to flow as I said farewell to the life that I knew and loved so much for four wonderful years. 

As they teach us Aggies at Fish Camp, “From the outside looking in, you can’t understand and it, and from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.” I can attempt to explain to you why I love Aggieland so much, but until you attend a Silver Taps ceremony, Muster, or even an Aggie football game, my words will seem hollow.  

Although Fish Camp ignited this passion, my first defining Aggie experience was one of the first Silver Taps ceremonies I attended. If you’re not an Aggie or are not aware, Silver Taps occurs once a month in Academic Plaza (the heart of campus) and is a ceremony that honors current students who have passed away. At 10:30 P.M., thousands of students gather in the plaza in silence. As the families of the fallen enter the center of the plaza, the Ross Volunteers march in to a silent and slow cadence. Although there are thousands gathered, the only sounds that can be heard are the crescendo of synchronized footsteps as the cadets slowly reach the statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross and the soft tolls of the Albritton Tower to the songs of How Great Thou Art and Amazing Grace. Those who have passed away are remembered by rifle volleys and a special rendition of Taps known as “Silver Taps”.  The ceremony usually lasts about 30 minutes, but the somber atmosphere lasts much longer than that. The first Silver Taps I attended it started pouring down rain, yet the same amount of people came and not a single person moved. 

In a world that seems to be highlighted by criminal acts of hatred, Texas A&M is a shining beacon for hope. Students are taught to lead and serve selflessly, respectfully, loyally, and to do all things with integrity and excellence. The traditions at Texas A&M revolve around these values. Traditions like Silver Taps and Muster are examples of how Aggieland is so incredibly different than other major universities. Because A&M is so different, it is so easy to fall in love with. 

On my graduation day, the thing that made me cry wasn’t receiving my diploma, but rather the moment when my Aggie ring was turned to face the world. In those few short seconds of turning my ring around, it felt as if time had stopped. All of the experiences I had, the friends I had made, and the close connection that I had developed with this school flashed before me, and it was all leading up to this moment. Now, I joined the rest of the 600,000 people who call themselves former students.  If I had graduated from any other university, this would be the time that I would have called myself a “has-been”, but at Aggieland we have this little thing called the Aggie Network.  

As I packed up all of my things in College Station and prepared to leave my home for the past four years, the tears definitely began to flow. I had to say goodbye to the place that was so incredibly special to me, and I wasn’t ready for it. I took my thoughts to Twitter and posted a final selfie in my house. Then, something amazing happened. 

I was reminded by my own university that this wasn’t a goodbye. That’s not how being an Aggie works. Being an Aggie is about being apart of a bond so strong and special that it doesn’t end until your name is read at the Muster roll call. Being an Aggie is about giving of time and resources to others simply because they’re Aggies too. Texas A&M teaches its students a valuable lesson about how to be servant-hearted, and that goes with us until we reach the grave.

Yes, someday I will be that person that’s 85 and still goes to the football games. I pray that my kids and my grandchildren will not just want to go to A&M because I went there, but because they will see who it has made me become. 

To the current students and students to come: growth and time do not have to change the things that make us fundamentally different: our traditions. It is up to you to keep these alive. Do all that you can to see to that. In the mean time, I hope South Bend is ready for a bit of maroon because needless to say, I will be taking some with me. 


- Hannah Weger ‘15

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