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

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TAMU 101: How to be an Aggie

Photos by Abbey Santoro & Logan Mohr

The Aggie Ring, standing at football games and “horns down” are traditions unique to Texas A&M.

The maroon bubble, full of strange terminology and sacred campus sites, can be difficult to navigate for new students. As a kid who grew up bleeding maroon, bouncing around the east coast, explaining these traditions has become second nature, so much so that I get paid to walk around campus and introduce prospective students to all that the Aggie subculture has to offer. Here’s a list of the biggest traditions in Aggieland and what you need to know about each one: 

12th Man

Who is the 12th Man? It’s me, and you, and your roommate and that random person you see every Tuesday, because the 12th Man is every Aggie. 

The original 12th Man, who you can visit in statue form next to Kyle Field, was E. King Gill. On Jan. 2, 1922, Texas A&M was playing in the Dixie Classic against Centre College, and had so many players injured that the Aggies were almost forced to forfeit the game. Our coach at the time, Dana X. Bible, refused to surrender, and called down Gill — a former football player who had left to focus on his basketball career — from the press box and asked him to suit up in an injured player’s uniform. 

Gill agreed, and suited up to stand on the sidelines. He waited, and waited, and waited, but never went into the game. In an upset, the Aggies came back to win the game 22-14 over Centre College. Since this day, the title of “12th Man” has been passed to the student section and all Aggies to show that we are always willing to step in and suit up for our peers.

Aggie Ring

While many schools have a class ring tradition, none are as widespread as the Aggie Ring. Since the beginning of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, there has been a class ring of some form, commonly referred to as “Aggie Gold.” 

Since this time, all students who have completed 90 hours of coursework, achieving “senior status,” may order their ring to commemorate their time at A&M. Each ring has the university seal, the recipient’s class year and their name inscribed inside the band. 

While all Aggies celebrate differently, the day you pick up your ring is known as “Ring Day,” and often coincides with Family Weekend. Some Aggies choose to baptize their ring through the “Ring Dunk,” dropping their ring to the bottom of a pitcher of beer and chugging it as fast as possible. Though the dunk is not an official Aggie tradition, it is still widely practiced since its advent at Dixie Chicken in the 1970s.  

Aggie War Hymn

Other schools have a fight song, but here in Aggieland, we proudly sing the War Hymn during all our major campus events. The song’s original lyrics were written in 1918 on the back of a letter J.V. “Pinky” Wilson sent home to family, while abroad during World War I. 

The song highlights two important hallmarks of Aggie tradition, our historic rivalry with the University of Texas and our love for the maroon and white. 

The Big Event

This service event is the largest student-run, single-day service event in the country. Since its conception in 1982, thousands of Aggies participate in The Big Event each year, volunteering a Saturday morning at the end of March to give back to the Bryan-College Station community through service projects.

Bonfire & Bonfire Remembrance

Bonfire was a Texas A&M tradition that took place from 1907-1999 to represent our “burning desire” to beat Texas in our annual matchup. These forts of flame ranged from 55-109 feet tall and were a semester-long project for interested students. 

On Nov. 18, 1999, students were working on the stack and at 2:42 a.m, the structure fell, injuring 27 Aggies and killing 12. This was a devastating loss to the Aggie family, as a beautiful tradition was marked with the loss of these students. Since then, Aggies have gathered at the site of the stack on the date and time it fell to honor those who passed and show how much every single Aggie means to our community. 

Century Tree

If you walk to the Academic Building in the heart of campus, off to the left you’ll see a massive live oak tree, with branches that swoop down to the ground and back up to the sky, creating a stunning archway with its own sidewalk. 

It is said that if a couple walks under the tree together, they’ll get married, and if they get engaged under the tree, their marriage will last forever. With this in mind, plan your route to class accordingly, so you don’t end up forever bound to a complete stranger. 

Corps of Cadets and The Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band

This group of students, consisting of over 2,000 members, is considered the university’s oldest student organization. This doesn’t quite encapsulate the scope of the Corps, but it’s a reminder of our school’s roots as a military academy. 

Cadets, members of the Corps, are required to wear uniform in all academic buildings, as well as in the Memorial Student Center. These uniforms can be “Alphas,” the most formal version, “Bravos,” the khakis most used for class days, or “Charlies,” camouflage outfits.

Around 400 of these members are also a part of the nationally famous Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band. They perform a traditional military style band drill, but to such perfection  that you can’t help but be impressed. Though Aggies take a short sitting break at the end of the second quarter, students are expected to stand back up for the band, because really, they’re that good. 

Fish Camp

An Aggie’s first tradition, Fish Camp is for freshmen the summer before their first semester. Spending three days at the Lakeview Methodist Conference Center in Palestine, upperclassmen counselors introduce freshmen to the traditions of A&M and help them make their first friends through their “DG,” or “discussion group.”

Gig ‘em

In layman’s terms, this is a “thumbs up,” but in Aggieland it is referred to as “gig ‘em,” “gigging it” or “gigs.” This tradition started as a game slogan in games played against the Horned Frogs of TCU, where players were encouraged to “gig the frogs.” Since then, it has become the symbol of Aggie-hood, and is a great way to show off the Aggie Ring. 

Memorial Student Center

The center of campus life, commonly known as the MSC and the current home of The Battalion student newspaper. If you need anything non-academic on campus, this is the place to be. There are couches for napping, tables for eating and studying, lots of food options, places to meet with your student organizations and several resources like the Veteran Resource and Support Center as well as the Department of Multicultural Services.

What sets this building apart from other student unions or central buildings across the country is that it is intended to honor the Aggies who have given their lives in service of their country. Throughout the building you’ll find memorials for specific students or conflicts, and to show respect, we remove our hats as we walk into the MSC, and we don’t step on the grass directly outside the building, as it is part of the living memorial. 

Midnight Yell

What time is Midnight Yell? 

Yes, people do actually ask this. Midnight Yell takes place at midnight before each home game. Aggies enter Kyle Field to sing the War Hymn, practice their yells and hear stories from the Yell Leaders about how badly we’re going to beat our opponents. 

Who you go to Midnight Yell with though, is crucial. At one point, the lights will go out and you are expected to “mugdown” your date. (Mugdown refers to kissing them, not writing for the satirical campus paper.)


Held on April 21 of each year, Muster is the most solemn of Aggie traditions. Our school has a long legacy to celebrate, and one way we do this is by annually remembering the current and former students, as well as campus community members, through this ceremony. 

Aggies gather in Reed Arena, and around the world, to read a list of names for those who have passed, called “Roll Call for the Absent.” After each name is read, a candle is lit and those at the ceremony will say “Here.” Although these Aggies are no longer with us physically, they will always be with us in the Aggie Spirit.


The first lady, the queen of Aggieland, a five diamond general and your fluffiest peer, Reveille is an American rough collie and our school’s official mascot. Though the Aggies are not dogs, she is the embodiment of the school spirit we all hold dear. Also known as “Rev,” this pup lives with a sophomore member of the E-2 Company, or Mascot Company, of the Corps of Cadets. Going into the 2022-23 school year, we are led by Reveille X, whose predecessor, Reveille IX, is in retirement at the Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center.

Silver Taps

Similar to Muster, Silver Taps is a ceremony to honor current students who have died. When one or more students dies, a ceremony is held in their honor on the first Tuesday of the following month. Leading up to the ceremony, boxes are placed in the middle of campus to allow for letter writing to families. At 10:30 p.m., students silently gather in Academic Plaza to hear the names of each honoree read, and buglers atop the Academic Building play “Silver Taps,” a special rendition of the traditional Taps bugle call. 


That school down in Austin. Attendees are referred to as “t-sips,” and Aggies call the school either “t.u.” or Texas University, rather than the official school name. Aggies will often throw “horns down,” made by extending the index and pinky finger, while facing them to the ground. 

Wildcats and Whoop!

A critical part to finish up an Aggie yell is the wildcat, a class-specific sound and motion that lets everyone know what classification you are. Classification is dictated by your class year, not the year when you actually graduate, so if you started in the fall of 2019, like myself, you’ll always be the Class of 2023 (A-A-A-Whoop). Here’s each class’s wildcat:

Freshman: Hands up by your head, yelling “AAAA,” which sounds like “ayyyyy,” but long.

Sophomore: Make two finger guns, and while pointing them at the ground say “A-A-A-A-A,” shaking the aforementioned finger guns upon each “A.”

IMPORTANT NOTE: The word “Whoop” mentioned below is ONLY for use by juniors or seniors, unless they explicitly bestow privileges to their younger peers. This word is not so much said as it is yelled deeply. “Whoop” is the correct response to any good event, such as scoring a touchdown, getting an A on an exam or scoring a hot date to the next game. 

Junior: Make one finger gun using both hands, left over right. Pointing hands at the ground, say “A-A-A-Whoop.”

Senior: Make one finger gun, with fingers interlocked. Point your hands at the ground for one “A,” then, while raising your left foot, raise your arms above your head to the right, saying “Whoop.”

Yells and Yell Leaders

At Texas A&M, we yell instead of cheer. During time at New Student Conferences, Fish Camp, T-Camp or other orientation events, Aggies will learn yells, which are made up of four steps: the passback, the hump it, the yell and finally, the wildcat.

Yell Leaders are a five-person team, two juniors and three seniors, who are elected by the student body to lead the entire student section in Aggie yells. You’ll often see these folks clad in overalls or all white, janitorial style outfits, depending on the occasion, and any student is eligible to run for Yell Leader.

Michaela Rush is an English junior and news editor for The Battalion.

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