Wednesday, September 12, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 445



Staff Editorial


Tom Carpenter        Ken Fountain 
Nikie Johnson          Keenan Singleton       Audrey Warren

Burning money

Texas A&M University has some of the most devout (some may say extreme) fans among colleges, and some of the strongest held traditions.

Spirit is a great thing at a college. We lack it quite often here at UH. There is probably a warm feeling Aggies get inside as they stand during the entire football game,
singing cheering and whooping. But, everything in moderation.

Perhaps one of the most well-known A&M traditions is the Aggie bonfire, which marks a rivalry between its arch-rival, the University of Texas. That bonfire became
infamous Nov. 18, 1999 when it collapsed and killed 12 Aggies and injured 27.

A&M subsequently placed a moratorium on the tradition, with plans to revive it after safety improvements and plans were designed. That time, it seems, may have
come. An announcement was made this week on the cost to rebuild the bonfire again in fall 2002. The price tag? Roughly $1.5 million.

College spirit is wonderful; it helps create a lifetime of wonderful memories and fill yearbook pages. The tradition at A&M is the bonfire, the actual act of lighting a stack of
wood and watching it go up in flames with lots of cheerleaders and maroon-clad students. It is a tradition that some parents of the students who died have said they would
like to see continue.

But, the tradition should not continue the same way and should certainly not exceed $1 million.

It may be important for the bonfire tradition to return, but it can never come back the same -- ask any parent of those deceased students. Even those parents who want
to see that flame light up the sky again would probably say it would hold a different meaning.

It's ludicrous for the university to believe it can add a few safety experts with a lot of money and restore the tradition back to normal. The bonfire tradition has changed for
A&M, and so upon its return, it too should have changed.

A smaller bonfire would be no less symbolic than a large, dangerous, expensive one. It would continue the tradition, cost less and show that the university doesn't
expect things to return to normal after only a couple of years.

Nearly all college students support traditions and spirit, but in A&M's case it must be done with the understanding that once something has changed so drastically, there is
no going back, no matter how much money is pumped in to force it.

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