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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

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Changes to Elephant Walk enacted

Dedicated+in+1918%2C+the+bronze+statue+of+Lawrence+Sullivan+Ross+stands+in+front+of+the+Texas+A%26amp%3BM+Academic+Building+in+the+heart+of+campus.
Photo by Photo by Luke Henkhaus

Dedicated in 1918, the bronze statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross stands in front of the Texas A&M Academic Building in the heart of campus.

Texas A&M Class Councils will not include a stop at the Lawrence Sullivan Ross statue in Academic Plaza during the junior and senior Elephant Walks today.

Ross was a former university president, Texas governor and confederate general. Dedicated in 1918, his statue is the oldest sculpture on campus. According to political science senior and Elephant Walk director Julia Tisch, the decision was made due to time constraints in the planning process and a greater emphasis on making the event more inclusive. 

Tisch said the director team saw a need to promote inclusion after senior class president Andrea Flores successfully ran on the platform “minorities are priorities.”

“Although there are a lot of people on this campus who don’t quite agree with that vision or don’t really see its true meaning, she did win for a reason and that meant that there are enough people who went and voted for her to win that position,” Tisch said. “We did think that was obviously a salient issue this year.”

In previous Elephant Walk ceremonies, class presidents climbed on top of the Sul Ross statue and read names of students who have passed away. This is typically the second to last stop during the walk and is followed by a yell practice at Kyle Field.

This year, Tisch said students who have passed away will be honored first on the route, so their presence will be acknowledged for the entirety of the event. Participants will be asked to be silent when walking through Academic Plaza to reflect on meaning of Silver Taps and Muster. 

While students will still pass by the statue, Tisch said it will not be a focus of the walk because student groups have 

recently expressed discomfort concerning Sul Ross’ past as a Confederate general.

“We really just feel like there are a bunch of students here who are about to graduate and who have still yet to feel like A&M is their home just because of certain traditions that they don’t feel included in or just the way they’ve been treated or viewed by their peers or their professors,” Tisch said. “This is a small other way that could help some students feel more welcomed here right before they graduate.”

Decisions regarding the future of Junior E-Walk were also made when Class Councils chose to cancel the event after this year. Junior E-Walk was created in 1992 to stop the junior class from sabotaging the seniors during their Elephant Walk. Though the two walks make the same stops, the classes take opposite paths so they never meet. 

Considering the tradition’s origin, finance senior and Class Councils executive director Julian Moberly said Junior E-Walk is no longer necessary.

“There’s no real issue of juniors hazing the seniors, so the purpose of the tradition has been fulfilled,” Moberly said. 

Class of 2020 president and biomedical sciences junior Patrick Hernandez said the decision to eliminate Junior E-Walk was not an easy one. There were many discussions within Class Councils this year to explain why Junior E-Walk is no longer needed.  No longer participating in E-Walk will allow the junior class to start planning their class gift earlier, Hernandez said.

Student senator and petroleum engineering senior Jett Black co-authored a resolution requesting the stop at the Sul Ross statue be added back to E-Walk, though it cannot be voted on until the Student Senate’s next meeting on Nov. 28, more than a week after Elephant Walk. 

Black said he remembers when he first learned about the Sul Ross statue and the tradition of placing a penny on Sully for good luck.

“It is something you learn about when you first come to campus on tours,” Black said. “It should be a tradition that we revisit at the end of our four years here.”

Student Senate speaker pro-tempore and computer science junior Tate Banks said he was told that Class Councils removed the stop at the statue due to logistical issues.

“I can say that there are some folks within [student government] and the greater Aggie community as a whole who are not too thrilled about Sully being excluded from Elephant Walk,” Banks said. “Sully is obviously a very integral part of the campus.”

Tisch said removing the Sul Ross stop on the Elephant Walk route should not change the tradition’s overall focus. 

“[We] need to remember that the true meaning of tradition is to bring students together for a common purpose,” Tisch said.

 

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article included a statement that was falsely attributed to Julia Tisch. This is inexcusable and The Battalion apologizes for the inaccuracy. The article has been updated accordingly.   

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