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

The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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

The Battalion

Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
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Texas A&M pitcher Kaiden Wilson (30) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Tennessee at the NCAA Men’s College World Series finals at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
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Mother reflects upon loss

It’s been four years since Neva Hand had the dream: Across the room, she sees her daughter, Jamie, with a smile. After they hug, Neva tells Jamie it’s been a long time since she has seen her, and Jamie replies with a simple “yeah.” She asks her daughter what Heaven is like, and again Jamie gives a simple reply, “It’s kind of quiet.”
“When I woke up, I felt like she was with me,” said Neva, a journalism teacher at Henderson High School in Henderson, Texas. “I thanked God for allowing me to hug my child again.”
Jamie was one of the 12 Aggies killed when Bonfire collapsed five years ago. Nov. 18 was a day that changed the lives of the victims’ families and the Texas A&M campus forever.
“We were always a close, united family,” Neva said. “I think this has changed us by making us more open about our love for each other. I don’t ever have a phone call with my daughters where the last thing said isn’t ‘I love you.'”
The last time Neva saw her daughter, Jamie, they had met at the mall, Jamie still in her “grodes” from working on Bonfire. When Neva hugged her daughter to leave, the last thing Jamie said was “Tell Daddy I love him.”
This year, Neva said her family will attend every event associated with the Bonfire Memorial and its dedication ceremony.
“Once this is all over, I have a feeling we will be able to re-adjust back to our own time table,” Neva said.
Neva said nothing could have been added to Jamie’s memorial portal, one of 12 dedicated to those who lost their lives. Jamie wrote the two texts that the Hands selected for her portal: One is a description of herself written on a Fish Camp counselor application; the other, an e-mail Jamie wrote one evening after coming home from Bonfire stack.
“They give you insight into what Jamie was like, into her personality,” Neva said. “I think that is good.”
After the collapse, several families sought restitution for the loss of their loved ones. The Hand family, however, chose not to file a lawsuit.
“The main reason (we chose not to) is that absolutely nothing in this world someone could give us or do for us would bring our daughter back,” she said. “And anything less is not enough.”
Neva said you cannot blame one person, especially Bonfire or the University, because they are inanimate objects. She said that while everyone has to do what their hearts tell them, she feels the families who decided to sue still had open wounds.
“You can’t heal if you’re hating,” Neva said. “And it’s much more important to heal.”
Although her family chose not to file a lawsuit, Neva is against bringing Bonfire back to campus and said Jamie would be as well.
“Jamie really was a very intelligent young woman, a deep-thinker,” she said. “It’s not a popular stance, but … under the circumstances, I really don’t see that she would be in favor (of bringing it back).”
Neva said if you don’t stop to look at something such as Bonfire with a critical eye once in a while, you are destined for a catastrophe.
“My daughter was killed because of the mindset of A&M. You don’t question tradition. Tradition is greater than logic,” she said. “And because of that I’m not in favor of bringing Bonfire back.”

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