Are Aggies Ready for a Female Yell Leader?
The "spirit" squad at Texas A&M is unlike any other in the country. For openers, they're not called "cheer leaders". They're "Yell Leaders", and for the school's entire history, they've all been men.
But maybe not for much longer. The winds of change are blowing through the hallowed halls of Aggie land.
For most of its history Texas A&M was a men-only school, famous for its military Corp of Cadets that trained thousands of men for military careers. In the 1960s, the school started accepting women and minorities as students and corps members, but the "yell leader" group remained all male, and it still is, but that might change.
A female student -- Samantha "Sam" Ketcham -- is running for one of the most coveted elected positions on campus -- Yell Leader -- the group that generates spirit and leads the noise from the crowd known famously as the Aggies' "12th Man".
Ketcham says she's a third generation Aggie, raised to bleed maroon and love A&M's traditions. She has a Facebook page and website that's drawing lots of support for her campaign. It's also drawing criticism from people who don't like the idea of a female yell leader. They think she's out to destroy the tradition.
Ketcham says she's not trying to change anything. She just thinks it's time to allow women to join the men in leading the yells. Aggie students will say what they think when they elect next year's yell leaders two weeks from now.
A&M is one of the finest agricultural and engineering schools in the world, and famous worldwide for its reverence for tradition. Unfortunately, it's also known for being obstinate in the face of change.
Having traditions is a good thing, but allowing tradition to prevent change can be a bad thing.