Yesterday's issue of the Battalion had a large article addressing people saying or not saying "Howdy" to each other. No, I'm not kidding. Apparently it was a slow news day. When I walked out of the Blocker building after class today, someone had written "Howdy" and "Say Howdy" all over the sidewalks. I find the tradition quite bizarre because the reasoning behind it is silly:
Technology contributes to the decline of "howdy," but it is not at the heart of the problem. A mentality of suspicion is being imported to Aggieland, whether we want it or not.I think the people on this campus must be deluded; going to a large university is not like being in a family. This is not a small community, and it is only in small communities that people can (and rightly so) feel comfortable with all of its members. I have no doubt that some people at A&M are assholes, simply because if you gather 50,000 people together, some of them will be assholes. Frankly, I don't trust that A&M's admissions board is capable of weeding out douchebags, misogynists, rapists, racists, homophobes, and PUAs. So, I'm not going to be friendly to every person who accosts me on the sidewalk there. And acting as though I should is puzzling to me, because there are ways of making friends in college that do not include striking up a conversation with strangers on the sidewalk.
Our tradition of "howdy" is under attack by this suspicion, but we can't let it keep us from holding conversations with people we don't know. That's the only way to make new friends in completely new circles.
Aggies may be slowly losing our sense of community and not even know it yet. When we ask why a fellow student would want to talk to us, we forget that we're all members of a family; be we undergrad or graduate students, members of the Corps or transfer students, fraternity brothers or sorority sisters. Suspicion of your fellow Aggies in a simple conversation is not part of the Aggie Spirit.
This is not about friendliness at all, but about politeness and faking a community feeling that (presumably, since not that many people say "Howdy") many people on campus do not feel. The author of this article seems to be attacking people like me, who do not feel as though our campus is at all like a unified community. And instead of trying to figure out why that is, he instead attacks that feeling and demands that we accept the addresses of strangers. This is troubling because, while I place little value in school spirit and being an "Aggie" and thus have no trouble ignoring such a demand, some people may feel obligated to accept this advice because they do value school spirit. And, despite what the author of this article believes, campus is not always a safe space, and Aggies are not always going to be principled and harmless conversationalists. While most of the time I ignore people saying "Howdy" to me because I think they're annoying, and not because I think they're dangerous, it is not as though a campus environment is free from violence. It's safer to trust your instincts when it comes to talking to strangers on campus, rather than trusting Aggie traditions. But I don't think they teach that at freshman orientation.