John Tarleton’s dream to create an institution of higher education for students of modest means today is reality. Tarleton State University offers an affordable, quality education and boasts graduates whose accomplishments would make its founder proud.

This monthly column, by an anonymous university author, looks at the school’s progress, issues of our time, achievements and challenges through the eyes of John Tarleton — a dreamer’s point of view.

Tarleton State University is rich with tradition.

This great university opened its doors Sept. 3, 1899, as John Tarleton College.

Then and now, school spirit pervades the Tarleton culture. It is a defining feature of the Tarleton experience.

Long after they leave, students are bound by Tarleton pride and by the memories they make here.

That’s true every season. But it’s never more apparent than Homecoming, when the community rallies and alumni return home to celebrate their alma mater.

From Yell Contest and bonfire to the parade and football game, Homecoming 2018 events take place Oct. 14 to 20. This year’s theme — Back to Our Roots — makes it clear that the traditions of generations past and present are pillars of the annual event.

Every year, students and alumni gather for the L.V. Risinger Memorial Bonfire, which dates to the 1920s and always takes place the Friday of Homecoming week. The Plowboys, the oldest campus spirit organization in the nation, along with other student volunteers build the fire.

The 1920s also marked the beginning of the Beating of the Drum. Students beat a steel drum 24 hours a day until kickoff of the football game to discourage a rival team from invading the campus. Today, students beat a drum from Wednesday of Homecoming week after the Yell Contest until kickoff Saturday.

Yet even as Tarleton celebrates these time-honored practices, students are creating new traditions.

            Take the Launching of the Ducks, which began in 2013. Students write personal wishes and goals on rubber ducks — in honor of Oscar P, the university’s unofficial mascot — before nudging them into the reflection pools at the Nursing Building.

There is a Snake Dance where students lock arms and glide across campus as they make their way to the Beating of the Drum. A late night purple pancake breakfast cooked and served by Tarleton’s Student Government Association. The Purple Out Picnic. Coronation of the Homecoming king and queen. The Homecoming 5K. The Tarleton Alumni Association All-Class Reunion and J. Dixon White Golf Classic. The Silver Bugle Hunt, a university-wide scavenger hunt. Lighting of the Tarleton smokestack, which shines bright purple.

And, of course, the Homecoming Parade set for 10 a.m. on Oct. 20 and the standoff with Texas A&M-Kingsville that night.

It is truly a time of revelry. But at Tarleton, school spirit and tradition extend far beyond Homecoming. Every Thursday, students, staff and faculty show that spirit by sporting purple, the university’s color. 

The Purple Poo — 10 men and 10 women — promote Tarleton spirit throughout the year with a passion for the purple and white. Members appear only in costume, then reveal their identities in the spring.

Consider this a personal invitation to join us for Homecoming 2018, to cheer on Texans at athletic events year-round or to enjoy a leisurely stroll on campus. You’ll be inspired by what you see and feel.

Tradition. Spirit. Pride.

They’re the ties that bind us, today and tomorrow.