Keep off the grass: MSC Traditions
Hallowed tradition rooted in MSC grass
Published: Thursday, April 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 23:07
When the Memorial Student Center reopens April 21, the building and its traditions will be uncharted territory for many Aggies. Those students will quickly become acquainted with a loud and important command: “GET OFF THE GRASS!”
The grass that surrounds the MSC is considered one of its most important legacies. It is a living memorial dedicated to all Aggies, past or future, who have given or will give their lives in wartime. In order to respect the 955 Aggie soldiers killed in the line of duty, A&M tradition prohibits all Aggies from stepping on the grass that surrounds the building.
Following the closing of the MSC, a three-by-five foot section of the memorial grass was removed from the northeast corner of the lawn and transferred to the Bonfire Memorial where it will remain a symbolic reminder to students that the old grass will always be a part of Texas A&M University.
With the reopening just around the corner, students who only had a short-lived experience with the building are both looking forward and looking back. Brian McDonald, senior history major and Residence Hall Association president, fondly remembers his short time with the memorial grass.
“Although the MSC has been closed for much of my A&M career and the grass gone, I still remember that special turf,” McDonald said. “I remember the loud shouts of ‘Get off the grass!’ anytime anyone thought it was a good idea to venture off of the paved path. And I distinctly remember being deathly afraid to step on any grass anywhere my freshman year, fearing that I might get yelled at.”
The grass will again become off-limits with the reopening, and a formal ceremony to officially memorialize the grass is tentatively set to take place in the days following . The old grass, however, which was St. Augustine, will now be replaced with a different type known as Zoysia grass.
Luke Altendorf, MSC complex director, explained the significance of the ceremony and change of grass.
“When the ceremony takes place, what we’re intending to say is that the grass is back and once again is sacred ground,” Altendorf said. “And as for the grass change, we decided to switch to this type because it’s far more environmentally friendly and takes up much less water.”
As McDonald remembered, students who dared venture on the grass prior to the MSC’s closing were frequently treated to a verbal assault from fellow
Aggies. But Jonathan Callaway, Class of 2008, remembers some students who walked onto the grass were treated to even harsher punishments.
“It was really great to have a tradition like the grass that everyone knows and respects,” Callaway said. “Multiple times when I was walking by the MSC, I saw kids get tackled for walking on the grass. That’s how much people cared.”
Students who will be newly introduced to the MSC are also looking forward to the return of MSC traditions. Madalyn Caraway, freshman Blinn team, is a third-generation Aggie whose father explained to her the importance of the MSC and the memorial grass.
“I remember he once told me that the grass was the most well-kept-up part of the campus,” Caraway said. “Being around it just made you feel like part of a big legacy, greater than yourself. I’m really excited to get to experience that.”
Taryn Tipton, executive chair of the Traditions Council, also said she was filled with excitement at the prospect of one A&M’s longest and most cherished memorials returning.
“Since Muster Day in 1951 the grass has been with us as a reminder of the heroic sacrifice Aggies have made to keep fellow students safe,” Tipton said. “When you walk by it everyday, it may seem unimportant. But when you stop for a second to think about what it means, it’s one of the most significant tributes we have on our campus.”