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Texas A&M is a fine institution of higher learning, and I like plenty of Aggies.

But some of the traditions are just a wee bit strange.

Like swatting each other on the ass with an axe handle in a barn.

What, you ask? Whited is surely confused! Maybe drunk. Maybe heatstroke (heatstruck?).


Here ya go, from the Austin American-Statesman:

It was just after 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12, when the first ax handle swung.

It took only a fraction of a second as that handle, wielded by a Texas A&M University junior, arced its way across a short distance to the buttocks of a sophomore, where its flat surface landed with a solid smack.

That brief moment set the stage for one of the largest disciplinary actions in the history of Texas A&M. Since then, 77 cadets from the university's elite cavalry unit have been singled out for punishment. Threats of criminal charges have been made. Now, a lawsuit is pending against the school on behalf of the cadets being disciplined.

That smack was the first of many that sounded that afternoon. A cascade of more than 300 others followed, as ax handles slapped against 27 backsides in the Parsons Mounted Cavalry hay barn.

No injuries were reported. No sophomore complained. The smacks themselves were not even particularly loud. Delivered as "half-swats" (with a swing that began at the waist) and muffled by the surrounding bales of hay, they barely sounded outside the barn.

Apparently, the university has decided this is an act of hazing, and is considering punishments. This action, of course, has produced the same response from hardcore Aggies as when the university decided it was probably not a good idea to allow unsurpervised, untrained students to build huge structures and set them on fire (because they might, you know, collapse and kill people):

"A&M has always been steeped in tradition," said John A. Adams, a historian and 1973 A&M graduate who has written several books on the history of the school.

"Most of it was military, and there's always been some hazing, but it was certainly not a secret.

"But I doubt if there'd be so much interest in this case if it didn't involve the Corps. There've always been those who were ready to take a shot at the Corps."

Ah yes, the world is always out to get the Aggie Cadet Corps. UT's Bevo probably had something to do with it.


[Posted at 13:44 CST on 06/28/03] [Link]

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