Elephants and mud. An unlikely combination? Not quite. Mud acts as protector for their sensitive skin. It must feel great to them because they enjoy the mud so much that they are likely to grow rowdy.
Doesn’t that sound like a sight? While elephants taking mud baths might be fun to watch, a wet ground was a concern for Elephant Walk and Junior E-Walk directors Gabe Marenco and Megan Moore. There was even talk of possibly rescheduling the entire event to a later date because of the weather.
“We are just going to have the important stuff: live elephants, the walk around campus and the presentation,” said Moore.
The event went just as she re-planned.
Class Councils hosted the 85th year of the Elephant Walk tradition. It began from the idea that seniors were no longer able to contribute to the student body, such as election time on campus. They became useless in that aspect. “As the seniors are dying off, the junior class will have seniority allowing them to do the senior wildcat, ‘whooping’ up,” said Marenco.
The event began at the Association of Former Students with free food, music and shirt sales. Students were also able to take pictures with the elephants.
Traditionally, the senior class gathered at one spot so that they could walk the path The class of 2012 gathered at the 12th man statue. The group led by a senior yell leader stopped traditionally significant spots that are to the Aggie family.
Elephants were included in the event because right before they die, the elephants return to places from their past. Similar to elephants, seniors visited spots around campus that had significance to their time spent at A&M.
Junior E-Walk is significant for the junior’s because they too visit places special to them.
“I had a lot of fun going back to our old spots on campus and doing yells with my class and my closest friends’,” said Junior Kristi Case.
Junior E-Walk has been celebrated for 19 years. In 1978 juniors began sabotaging the seniors walk around campus shooting them with water guns to make them die faster.
With growing frustration, the senior class of 1988 began the “Keep it Clean” campaign. They wanted to bring back the solemn feel to the tradition. The 1992 administration decided to give juniors their own walk to distract them.
In 1998 the popularity of the tradition had grown so much that the campaign was no longer needed.
After their individual walks the classes joined for the presentation held in Rudder Auditorium.
An acoustic performance by an up and coming country artist Kimberly Dunn entertained the crowd before the main speaker, university president R. Bowen Loftin began his speech.
During the presentation, the senior class gift was also presented. The current renovation to the Memorial Student Center will now include an intricate Aggie-themed wood carving. It was purchased with the money from the class’ shirt sales during past years.
“Even though I did not attend A&M, after experiencing the event for myself I can see why students’ decide to put so much time and effort into the preservation of these traditions,” said Debra Gonzales, a parent of a Junior Class Councils member.