By Brian Pawelko
As I prepared to leave for the Conference on Student Government Associations (COSGA) at Texas A&M University, I thought about what ideas I wanted to bring back to the Rider community. I was excited about the prospect of workshops and round tables that would fill my brain with ideas to help Rider.
Somewhere between the “Aggie War” hymn and the countless people I encountered, it became crystal clear what the real lesson at hand was. This lesson was overpowering, overwhelming in a way that I was not prepared for. The pride that was exhibited by every member of the Aggie community exemplified what the true college experience should be.
As I went back to my hotel I thought, it’s not the parking or the food. It’s the pride in our University that Rider truly lacks. Our shirts state we bleed Cranberry, yet A&M showed me what it’s truly like to bleed maroon.
One of the largest campuses in the United States contained less litter on it than Centennial Lake alone. I could not find one piece of trash anywhere throughout the campus. Tradition, pride and school spirit are evident in every crevasse at Texas A&M.
I walked around the bonfire memorial, which contained quotes and stories from all 12 students who died in a tragic 1999 collapse of a stack of logs. I read each and every one of them and in such a surreal way, it explained to me what it meant to be an Aggie.
I stood at the Texas Hall of Fame and watched everybody dance to the “Aggie War” hymn at midnight like they do every night. I talked to a student and his grandfather whose family has had a total of four generations at Texas A&M. When asked if he had a choice to come to A&M the student replied by saying “I wouldn’t have it any other way. This was the only school I applied to.” There are so many examples of pride at A&M that I could probably fill this entire newspaper with them.
The point is I felt something is missing from Rider University and our student body. It’s a lack of pride, and I feel ashamed at the way some students treat our University. From destroying cars and residence halls in a drunken rage to the apathetic nature that a lot of students at Rider have, I really feel at a loss for our University.
The one thing I hope to improve as I continue my career in the Lawrenceville SGA is to help instill a little pride amongst the student body. I don’t expect we will match nearly half of what A&M has. I hope, though, that one day we can really have a true sense of pride for what we have right here in Lawrenceville and Princeton, N.J.