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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

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Southern slugfest
May 23, 2024
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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
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
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A fighter jet squadron flies over during the National Anthem before Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas at Olsen Field on Saturday, May 18, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Bryan-College Station Regional participants announced
Ian Curtis, Sports Writer • May 27, 2024

For the second time in three seasons, No. 3 national seed Texas A&M baseball will host the Bryan-College Station Regional, where it’ll...

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Beekeeper Shelby Dittman scoops bees back into their hive during a visit on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
Bee-hind the scenes
Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • May 1, 2024

The speakers turn on. Static clicks. And a voice reads “Your starting lineup for the Texas A&M Aggies is …” Spectators hear that...

Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
'I was terrified'
April 25, 2024
Scenes from 74
Scenes from '74
April 25, 2024
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

What about the other 364 days?

We’re college students, so it’s understandable if we’re not quite the philanthropists we would like to be. Dearth of time and money is basically written into the definition of student, leaving few convenient opportunities to give back to the community. Luckily, Texas A&M provides a neatly packaged solution that can, not only alleviate your guilt, but replace it with a warm feeling of self-righteousness.
Big Event, A&M’s gift to the world, started in 1982 as a way for the A&M students to express their gratitude toward the greater Aggie community. Luckily, a goal as lofty as thanking an entire community for fostering an environment of scholarship and support can be easily accomplished one day out of every year. That’s good news for many of us.
Maybe it’s not that simple. Let’s delve deeper.
Throughout the day, Aggie volunteers assist residents of the Bryan-College Station community with a variety of tasks. Local residents fill out a job request form and Big Event participants are assigned to those tasks come March 28. These tasks, which are up to the resident’s discretion, can range from yard work to basic construction; basically, anything they need a little extra help with. By signing up at http://www.bigevent.tamu.edu/, you too can have the chance to be a part of Texas A&M’s big “thank you” to its community and spend a day (minimum of four hours, or resident’s approval) helping make it a better place.
By abstaining, you become a heartless monster bent on not only destroying the foundations of Aggie service, but also eating children.
The growing ranks of Big Event volunteers, which reached 8,000 last year, make those who choose to serve their community through less ostentation ever more conspicuous. Mention that you have a problem with Big Event and you may soon become a pariah. It’s a good thing I’m not doing any such thing.
Rather than point out and cringe at the thought of Big Event becoming the beacon of Aggie service, we should take steps to harness what draws students to it into a more significant community response, particularly one that lasts longer than 1/365th of the year (being generous).
The main concern lies not in Big Event participators listing four days of community service through a four-year degree on their résumé as if it is anything but trivial. More pressing is the rather misguided idea that a single event, no matter how expansive, can somehow be enough to give back to the community. References to Big Event as exemplifying A&M’s commitment to service are laughable at best, dangerous at worst.
It’s true that Big Event is a unique Aggie creation and deserves a certain level of acclaim. The fact that it has spread to other universities is indication enough that it might have something going for it. It has its place within the larger realm of service, but to say it embodies the spirit of service and unity, brings the bond between students and the community to higher levels and profoundly affects the environment is foolish.
Service has always been about sacrifice and commitment, neither of which is involved with Big Event to any appreciable degree (not to say one Saturday isn’t a sacrifice – I’m a student, too). The event, which admits it isn’t about serving those with socioeconomic needs, serves a niche group of people who feel like they need to do some good, but simply don’t have the time or drive to devote more of themselves to a local cause. To see Big Event as a great opportunity to get a year’s worth of service packed into a day of house work is a scary, and prevalent, view.
Still, there are plenty of Big Event participants who are service-oriented and strive to make their community better through a variety of other projects. The larger purpose of Big Event should be to spread that spirit to the rest of the student body. Numbers make Big Event unique, but rather than striving for larger statistics, the goal should be to spread awareness of our community’s social needs and provide a gateway to the multitude of service projects adopted by the Aggie student body. Maybe it takes a little more than a day of cutting the lawn to show your community some love.
Though Big Event may be the largest and most visible quasi-service event in the Bryan-College Station area, it certainly isn’t the only one. Many organizations take the basic spirit of Big Event and have a much more sustained and influential role in giving back to the community. Obviously, nothing beats the satisfaction of calling yourself a community volunteer by enduring the one-day gauntlet of Big Event, but if it makes you feel good about giving back, then good news: there’s plenty more where that came from, and you don’t even have to wait 364 days to feel it.
So go out there and make a difference in your neighbor’s lawn, but realize the world goes just a little beyond there.

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