From the inside looking in: Tradition and diversity at Texas A&M University
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This study explores how the unique history, culture, and traditions of Texas A&M University shape students’ perceptions and understandings of diversity and diversity programs. I examine these issues through participant observation of Texas A&M’s football traditions and in-depth, semi-structured interviews with members of the student body. In response to increased media scrutiny, public pressure, and scholastic competition, the current administration has embraced a number of aggressive initiatives to increase diversity among members of the student body. The collision between decades of tradition and the administration’s vision for the future has given rise to tension between members of the student body and the administration, which I argue is due, at least in part, to the culture that began developing at Texas A&M during the middle of the twentieth century as students began reacting to the prospect of change. I conclude that this historical and cultural context continues to impact modern campus life through students’ dedication to tradition. In addition, I suggest that current students tend to assign different meanings and values to the concepts of both tradition and diversity than either faculty members or administrators do, creating tensions that have not been comprehensively examined or understood within the context of the Texas A&M community. Based on these findings, I suggest that proponents of diversity can improve the diversity project at Texas A&M University by giving students more responsibility for diversity programs, emphasizing the process (rather than the results) of diversification, attempting to eradicate all forms of intolerance and injustice on campus, and insisting on a policy of mutual respect.
Caulfield, Emily Lynn (2008). From the inside looking in: Tradition and diversity at Texas A&M University. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from