Tarleton spirit deeply rooted in tradition

By Allison Sulivant
Texan News Service

For more than 113 years, Tarleton State University students have embraced a wide variety of traditions. From the 254 oak trees to Oscar P, Tarleton’s gates are always open to those who embrace the spirit of Tarleton.

Because of the shared relationships and traditions held dear, Tarleton is a home away from home and the start of a new chapter in students’ lives.

“Tarleton is more than a school,” said junior Kaylee Carlile. “For me, it is my home away from home. It’s the place where I belong.”

Traditions are extremely important to those who hold Tarleton close to their hearts. Since 1899, Tarleton’s unique history has grown and become more diverse every day. From staying off the deep lush grass, to beating the drum and not walking on the seal, Tarleton Texans respect tradition.

Rusty Jergins, a former Purple Poo, charter Plowboy member, Kappa Alpha fraternity member, and current Dean of Student Life, has spent 33 years on the Tarleton campus. Jergins said, “The relationships we form, the connections that we make, the pride we take in our school, to antics of the Poo, and to the shenanigans of the Plowboys, that’s the spirit of Tarleton.”

Although Tarleton is known for its many traditions, one of the oldest and dearest is the spirit of John Tarleton. John Tarleton is not only the founder of Tarleton, he is the man who made the legendary walk from Tennessee to Stephenville.

Justin Green, a senior, said, “I like the whole story of John Tarleton and how we keep that story alive and not just blow it off.”

Even today, students stay off the grass because it is believed that John Tarleton was buried with his pet duck, Oscar P, somewhere on the Tarleton campus. Staying off the grass is just one of the many traditions that are encouraged by those who have been a part of Tarleton for years.

“When people see others following the traditions, it encourages them to do it as well,” said Harry Taylor, a member of the Plowboys.

In order to keep these traditions alive, those who become part of the Tarleton family must lead by example.

“The people are Tarleton,” said Jergins. “The bricks, the grass, the trees; those are the physical things that make Tarleton. But I do not know life without that spirit of Tarleton.”

Tradition is what binds the past and future classes of Tarleton together. Being a Tarleton Texan is more than attending classes in a bunch of buildings. It is becoming part of a shared heritage passed down from one generation of Texans to the next.

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