Something that sets Texas A&M apart from any other school in the country is our commitment to honoring traditions that have made Texas A&M the school it is today. We encourage you to become familiar with as many traditions as you can during your time here— whether it's 4 months or 4 years— because participating in what makes A&M special will enrich your time here in Aggieland.
That being said, a short summary of traditions is nearly impossible to explain. Perhaps our unique school spirit was best summed up as: "From the outside looking in, you can't understand it. And from the inside looking out, you can't explain it."
Howdy is the official greeting of Texas A&M University! Greeting each other with a “Howdy!” separates us as the friendliest University in the world. This is the way that we make sure no one on our campus feels like a stranger. No one really knows how this tradition originated, but it is a tradition we encourage everyone to carry on!
The Aggie Ring is a unique representation of achievement by an Aggie. Aggies take pride in earning their little piece of gold and the Aggie Ring is unlike any other because students cannot design their own class ring or order it at any time.
Since the Aggie Ring has remained virtually unchanged since 1894, it is recognizable by any Aggie around the world. [Enlarged Photo]
The Aggie Ring can only be ordered when an Aggie completes 90 hours, 45 of the hours being from Texas A&M University.
Texas A&M University was originally named "The Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas" and the term "Aggie" was a nickname given to students who attended the "A&M College of Texas."
In 1963 the name was changed to "Texas A&M University" to better reflect the wide-range of degrees offered at Texas A&M but the term "Aggie" stuck.
Gig ‘Em is the universal sign of approval for Aggies. First used in, 1930 at a football game against the Texas Christian University "horned Frogs," "Pinkie" Downs, Class of 1906, asked, "What are we going to do with those Horned Frogs?" and answered, "Gig ‘Em Aggies!" (from frog hunting).
For emphasis he made a fist with his thumb extended up. It was the first hand sign of the Southwest Conference for 25 years until t.u. copied the idea from the Aggies and created their Hook ’em Horns. Now Aggies give each other this sign to encourage and motivate each other.
On January 2nd, 1922 during a championship game nearly every A&M player was injured during the rough game and an Aggie, E. King Gill '24, was standing with students in the stands and volunteered to suit up as a substitute player.
Since 11 players are on the field during a football game, E. King Gill was the "12th Man," and the idea of standing behind your team despite all circumstances has become an integral part of Texas A&M sports culture.
Today the tradition continues; all Aggies stand at all football games, symbolizing our readiness to go into the game whenever we are needed
The Corps of Cadets is is a student military organization. Established with the University in 1876, it is the oldest student organization on campus. Each cadet wears his or her uniform to class and University functions.
Until 1965 the University was an all-male, all-military institution. Now, over 2,500 students choose to be in the Corps with about 45% choosing to commission as officers in the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines.
Cadets live together with together with their units on the Quad (Southside of campus) and participate in physical fitness and military training each morning. The Corps is run by cadet-level leadership.
Seniors in the Corps are easily recognizable by the custom cavalry boots they wear anytime in uniform.
The Fightin' Texas Aggie Band is a unit within the Corps of Cadets that is nationally famous for its precision marching performances during halftime at football games.
Being in the Corps of Cadets is a requirement of being in the Aggie Band and the high level of discipline enables the band to perform detailed drills that change each week. [Video]
Silver Taps is the student body's final tribute paid to a student who passes away while attending Texas A&M. It is held, if neccessary, the first Tuesday of every month at 10:30pm in front of the Academic Building.
It is a very somber ceremony— lights across central campus are extinguished, the bell tower plays songs, and students silently gather to honor their fellow Aggies.
Silver Taps begins with the Ross Volunteer Firing Squad marching into the Plaza and firing a 21 gun salute. Buglers then play their rendition of Taps three times from the dome of the Academic Building: once to the north, south, and west. Taps is never played to the east because the sun will never rise on that Aggie’s life again.
The names of the students being honored at the ceremony are displayed on the plaque at the base of the flagpole in front of the Academic Building throughout the day.
On April 21st each year, Aggies gather together across the globe to honor Aggies that have passed away in the last year.
Muster represents the Aggie Spirit that binds Aggies to their school and to one another. It is more than a ceremony; it is a responsibility that is handed down from one generation to the next. Muster is a way for Aggies to renew their loyalty to their school and their friends.
Muster is a tradition very unique to Texas A&M and is more than mourning those that have passed, it is a celebration of the brotherhood that Aggies share, despite how long ago they may have graduated or how far they wandered from College Station.
Football is very different at A&M in many ways, one of which is that we don't have cheerleaders— we have Yell Leaders!
The tradition began when Texas A&M was an all-male military school and cheerleaders weren't available and has become something that sets games at Kyle Field (our stadium) apart from that at any other school.
The Yell Leaders use hand signals, called "passbacks," to tell the entire stadium which yell was about to begin. The Yell Leaders then lead the entire stadium (over 100,000 people!) in one a unison yell in order to drown out the play calls of the opposing team. The volume is something that can only be experienced and has led to Kyle Field being named one of the most intimidating venues for a visiting team.
Midnight Yell Practice is held the night before home football games (at midnight!) and features the Aggie Band marching in, practice yells, and exagerated stories of how bad the visiting team is going to be defeated.
At one point, all the stadium lights are shut off and Aggies kiss, or "mug down," their dates. If you didn't bring a date you can hold a lighter in the air and hope to be united with a fellow single Aggie.
The Century Tree is a massive live oak located next to the Academic Building that is over 100 years old. It was one of the earliest trees planted on campus and holds a special place in the heart of Aggies.
The tree has been the site of numerous marriage proposals, weddings and tourist snapshots because of its immense size and its unique drooping branches, many of which rest on the ground.
Superstition says that if you walk under the tree with someone you will spend the rest of your lives together, and if you walk alone you will remain alone, so make sure you are ready to commit when walking under the tree!
The statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross proudly stands in front of the Academic Building in central campus. Ross was President of Texas A&M from 1891-1898 and was much beloved by the students.
During Ross's seven-and-one-half year tenure, many enduring Texas A&M traditions formed. These include the first Aggie Ring and the formation of the Aggie Band. Ross's tenure also saw the school's first intercollegiate football game, played against the University of Texas. Many student organizations were founded in this time period and, in 1893, students began publishing a monthly newspaper, The Battalion that is still published and distributed across campus daily.
His death was devistating for the student body and the first Silver Taps was held to honor his passing.
Legend had that Ross would tutor students and only accept a penny in return. As such, Aggies "put a penny on Sully" as a wish for good luck when heading off to an exam.
The first building on campus, Old Main, burned down in 1912 and the current Academic Building was built in its place.
The class of 1912 was the only class ever that received a perfect 4.0 because grades were housed in the Old Main building at the time of its burning.
A replica Liberty Bell is housed inside the rotunda. After WWII, a replica of the famous Liberty Bell was sent to each state to honor each state's contribution to the war effort. Texas is the only state that didn't keep their bell in the capitol— the Texas Governor gave the bell to Texas A&M to thank the University for the 14,130 Aggies who served in WWII.