New Tradition Started At Texas A&M University
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) _ Texas A&M University, rich in traditions, may have started a new one this week when three females were admitted into the once all-male Texas Aggie Band.
The band’s male-only entrance requirement was dropped after an agreement reached earlier this year between the school, the U.S. Justice Department and Melanie Zentgraf, who filed a lawsuit in 1979 while she was an A&M student.
In a news conference Thursday, university officials identified the trio as Jennifer Peeler of Ennis, Carol Rockwell of Corpus Christi and Andrea Abat of Houston. The three are part of this year’s 105-member freshmen band class.
″I’m very determined to make it,″ Ms. Rockwell, 17, said. Asked whether she thought an Aggie tradition had been broken, she said, ″I believe we started a new one.″
Ms. Rockwell, a pre-med major and clarinetists, said she had encountered no hostility and that ″all the other freshmen and band members are behind us.″
″My desire to join the band was made before that case was settled,″ Ms. Abat, 18, said. ″I feel it’s the finest organization.″
The trio was among a panel of 15 corps members assembled for a news conference after officials refused requests from reporters to interview each of the female band members.
″There’s a lot of paranoia,″ said school spokesman Lane Stephenson. ″They just want to be accepted as members of the band.″
Another freshmen band member, Ronald Felden of Hondo, termed the hoopla over female band members, ″a big deal over nothing. I consider them as freshmen buddies.″
The Corps of Cadets, which include 2,000 of the school’s 36,800 students, gained notoriety a year ago when a cadet member died after being put through motivational exercises.
That incident plus introduction of the women band members has had no effect on the morale of corps members, Cadet Col. Thomas Hale, commanding officer of the band, said. ″This is by far the most motivated class I’ve seen.″
Ms. Abat, a building construction major and trombonist who’s planning a military career, said she was worried when she decided to join the band because of news reports about the all-male organization.
″The male members see there have been no problems,″ said Lt. Col. Joe T. Haney, director of the band. ″We’re pleased. We’ve been positive all along.″
All three women said they expected to continue in the corps and in the band for the duration of their college career.
″I started, I’ll finish,″ said Ms. Peeler, a biochemistry major and flautist.
Texas A&M has existed since 1876 and has had a band for 91 years even though it does not have a music department. Band members practice each day after class and perform at football and basketball games and military reviews. They also make out-of-town appearances.