Yesterday, members of the Texas A&M University System's Board of Regents voted to change the official seal of the TAMU system. The traditional "block-T" layered beneath the traditional Texas five-pointed star will be removed in favor of the newer beveled block "aTm" logo.
Across Aggieland, the initial reaction to this news has been a resounding "Why?"
The current seal is embedded around campus. It can be found on the floor of Koldus, stamped on the sides of our buildings, and emblazoned on our Military Walk. One of the most prominent and impressive class gifts in Texas A&M history is a mosaic installation of the seal in the entry hall of the Academic Building, donated by the Class of 1978. Many of these seals are surrounded with velvet ropes to protect them, but unfortunately these ropes don't extend into Regent meeting rooms.
The Texas A&M seal has changed only once before this. From the University's creation in 1876 up until 1947, the Texas A&M seal was a copy of the traditional Great Seal of Texas- a star of five points, encircled by olive and live oak branches. This same seal is found on the side of any Aggie ring made since 1899.
In 1947 the "T" was officially incorporated into the seal, but the move wasn't calculated by a bureaucracy that's ostensibly disinterested in public opinion. In fact, it was changed before the Texas A&M System was established in 1948, and came at a time when Texas A&M's future first Chancellor, Gibb Gilchrist, had put the campus into a frenzy with his anti-Hazing crusade. The seal as it appears today - like many traditions we hold dear at A&M - originally existed in an unofficial capacity and came about organically. It's somewhat fitting that it was established during campus controversy.
"...other things moved forward. Plans for a student union building were initiated. A number of faculty changes were announced. And the college adopted an official seal in September of 1947, choosing an unofficial seal which had long been in use." - Texas A&M University: A Pictoral History, Henry C. Dethloff, pg. 147
In addition to being stamped on every diploma and etched into every award given by the university since 1947, the seal has its own unique places in history.
On April 21, 1942, on the island of Corregidor in Manila Bay, Brigadier General George F. Moore '08 enlisted the help of Major Tom Dooley '35 to gather the names of the Aggies under his command. Moore gathered these Aggies in the Malinta Tunnel (a base for the troops and a place to provide them shelter from the onslaught of Japanese artillery) and he called the Muster. Of the 25 Aggie names he called, 12 made it off that island. On April 21, 1946, after the war had ended, over 100 Aggies made their way to the island of Corregidor to hold Muster and sit in remembrance of the lives lost in 1942. With them, these Aggies brought a Block T flag - the same symbol that would later make its way into the A&M seal.
Just 9 days ago, on April 21, 2015, a group of Aggies again made their way to the island of Corregidor - this time, to build a memorial. There you'll find the names of the Aggies who fell in 1942, a tribute to the Corps of Cadets, and at the base, you'll find a Texas A&M University seal.
This seal was created by Aggies, not brainstormed in a Nike meeting room. It's found on every diploma, and its roots are found on the side of every ring. After reviewing this seal's rich history, once again the question must be asked: "Why?"
Why remove the five-point Lone Star of Texas in favor of a logo designed in Eugene? Why make the block ATM logo the symbol for the University system, when many of our system schools have never once used that symbol on their campus? Why remove 68 years of tradition from buildings and floors - tradition that's worth installing on foreign islands? Why hear the disapproval of thousands of Aggies who worked equally as hard as you to earn that seal on their diplomas, and decide that you know better? Why make a decision like this unilaterally without consulting students or internal A&M media departments? Why?
These decisions define legacies. Each Aggie on the Board of Regents should take the time to look at their diploma and come up with an honest answer as to why the seal that each and every Aggie worked for wasn't good enough for them.