For most college freshmen, the biggest challenge is picking classes, learning your whereabouts on campus, and adjusting to the collegiate atmosphere. However, Aggies face an additional task. Freshmen at Aggieland must learn, understand, participate in, and share the beloved Aggie traditions of Texas A&M.
Unlike most schools that only have a handful of traditions, Texas A&M has many. You are expected to know every single one come your first day of classes. It may seem a bit intimidating at first, especially for those who aren’t third generation Aggies, but through your time at A&M, you will come to know and love each and every tradition that makes our school so special.
To jumpstart your Aggie education, here is a quick guide to a few of the fundamental traditions to help you out for your freshman year.
By now, you’ve probably heard this saying a million times. You’ve probably even used it in an Instagram caption or two. But what does it really mean? The term dates back to a yell practice in 1930 before we played the TCU Horned Frogs. A “gig” is a spear-like tool used to hunt frogs. So when P.L. “Pinkie” Downs asked the crowd “What are we going to do to those horned frogs?” he responded to his own question “Gig ‘em Aggies.”
If you’ve walked on campus, or almost anywhere in College Station, you’ve most likely been greeted by the term “Howdy.” Howdy is the official greeting of Texas A&M, and one of the many reasons we were ranked the friendliest university in the world. As you pass by another Aggie, or even a visitor on campus, it is not a requirement, but highly recommended that you share a smile and a quick “Howdy.”
As a freshman, all you really need to know about “whoop” is to avoid saying the word at all costs. You earn the privilege of saying “Whoop” when you become an upperclassman. If you slip up before then, you run the risk of an upperclassman telling you to “push fish,” meaning you have to do push-ups until they tell you to stop. Don’t be too frightened by this—if you aren’t joining the Corp of Cadets, you most likely won’t ever be told to push if you make the mistake. Be aware of the tradition and wait your turn!
Pennies on Sully
Most schools have a “lucky” statue somewhere on campus that if you touch before a big test, it is believed you will do better. At Texas A&M, we have a statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross in the center of Academic Plaza. Instead of rubbing a golden toe, we place pennies at his feet. During his time in College Station, “Sully” would help students with their school work. Whenever students tried to pay him for his aid, he replied the only payment he would accept was “a penny for your thoughts.” At the end of each semester, the pennies from the statue are collected and donated to a charitable organization.
“Red Ass” and “2%er”
If someone calls you a “Red Ass,” they are not referring to a sunburn on your derrière. The term is used as a compliment from one Aggie to another in praise of how one embodies the Aggie spirit. Conversely, being called a “Two-Percenter” is an Aggie insult that hits below the belt. This term refers to individuals who are not involved in the university, do not attend sporting events, and do not exhibit the friendly manners Aggies are known for. It is the hope that only 2% of the student population fits this label, hence the term.
If you’ve been to an Aggie sporting event, you’ve probably seen us clasping our palms together and shaking them back and forth while making a “hissing” noise when things aren’t going our way.
Right outside of the Academic Building lives a very special tree known as the Century Tree. Be careful who you walk under it with. The tradition goes that if you walk under the Century Tree with someone you will be together forever. However, if you walk under by yourself, you’ll be #foreveralone.
As a current student at Texas A&M, you are a part of the 12th man. You’ll really understand what this means when you return home after standing for the full duration of your first football game. Our students stand through every game just as E. King Gill ‘24, the original 12th man, did back during the Dixie Classic of 1922. As there are 11 players on a football field during game-play, E. King Gill stood ready on the sidelines as the twelfth man on the field if the team needed him. Although our student section is not on the field, our students stand symbolically ready to enter the game at any point if needed.