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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

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

To the Brazos

 
 

By the time cadets returned from their annual 18-mile March to the Brazos on Saturday, they had broken a fundraising record and fundamentally altered relationships between the classes.
Up from $68,000 last year, cadets raised a record-breaking $113,000 for the Brazos Valley chapter of March of Dimes, an organization that advocates for prenatal health education and research.
Community director Kathryn Scott said the March to the Brazos is the largest student-run fundraising event related to March of Dimes in the nation and has raised around $2.3 million since its beginning in 1976.
Scott said March of the Dimes was responsible for the first neo-natal intensive care units, the research that led to the wide availability of folic acid and the first education campaigns to stop women from smoking and drinking while pregnant.
Corps of Cadets public relations officer Austen Jacobs said the fundraiser has been so successful in part because the service is relevant to everyone.
“We were all babies once and most of us plan of having children someday,” Jacobs said. “So one that’s really interesting to me about what we do, which is support new-born health, is that it’s something that affects everyone regardless of who you are, where you come from. Everyone was born at some point.”
Jacobs said the March to the Brazos also serves as an informal transfer of ranks within the Corps and is especially important for freshmen.
While cadets do not officially transfer ranks until final review next Saturday, Forest Allen, junior university studies major, said the event is a tangible representation of passing down responsibilities from one class to the next.
In addition to donning the belts of the class above them on the march back to the Quad, Craig Hogg, freshman political science major, said a big part of March to the Brazos is “dropping handles,” or getting on a first-name basis, with upperclassman.
“The thing about March to the Brazos is from the outside looking in, you don’t really see the little things that matter, like first names,” Hogg said. “You probably think first names really aren’t a big deal, but when we are allowed to say that first name, it shows that we’ve earned that respect, that we’ve earned a place here.”
After beginning the year with 16 freshman cadets in their unit and ending the year with 12, Hogg and Emilio Alvarado, a freshman computer science engineer in the same unit, said privileges gained at March to the Brazos were earned through the weeks of physical training.
“I know in other outfits people punched out, and we’re still here,” Alvarado said. “Everyone here had the same training, we all made sacrifices, we sweated through these shirts like crazy. March to the Brazos is the transition, it’s a huge step.”
Hogg said the event is not only a fundamental change in the relationship between the freshman and sophomore class but also an acknowledgement of the responsibilities ahead with the incoming freshman class.
“This whole year, you’ve been dealing with the pissheads saying, ‘I’m not your buddy, I’m not your friend,'” Hogg said. “They’re always yelling at you, so when you finally get that pass down, we can finally just have a normal conversation.”
Once the cadets reached the Animal Science Teaching, Research and Extension Complex, their nine-mile breaking point near the Brazos River, units broke off into various physical training activities, most of which were centered around challenges between the classes. After years of participating in March to the Brazos, Jennifer Nelson, senior agriculture leadership and development major, said everyone most looks forward to the wrestling challenges.
“I think the one thing that everyone looks forward to is the wrestling, just because it’s your chance, especially as a freshman, to call out some of those really annoying upperclassman that really bugged you and kind of take out some frustration,” Neslon said.
Justin Schuster, sophomore aerospace engineering major, said two freshmen challenged him to wrestle. While Schuster said it is purely for fun when upperclassmen challenge each other, but a challenge from a freshman heats up a bigger rivalry.
“As a freshman, when you’re calling out an upperclassman, it’s kind of like an inner-rivalry heats up, and you’re like ‘Oh, it’s on now,'” Schuster said. “That’s what happened when a fish called me out. This is a guy I’ve been training all year, I’ve been yelling at. It’s revenge time on his part, that’s just kind of the rivalry.”
Schuster said dawning a white belt on the way back also comes with new responsibilities.
“Between the freshman and sophomore is definitely the biggest jump,” Schuster said. “But, through each transition, it’s pretty significant in that it gives us new privileges and new sense of leadership, new subordinates to work underneath us.”
Riding the bus with the rest of the seniors, Nelson said the event is more bitter sweet for the graduating class.
“We consider it dying,” Nelson said. “We are officially letting them take the rein of the outfit.”
While rivalries factor in, for Daniel Harpster, senior university studies major, the event as a whole is about simply getting together.
“It can be hard to get your entire outfit together throughout the year, but it’s one of those few times throughout the year that everyone comes together,” Harpster said. “You’re doing something together and there’s a bond, a camaraderie.”

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