San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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September 29th, 2008
Texas State channel: ‘Why not TSU vs. TSX?’

GUEST COMMENTARY by PETER BAEN

This coming Saturday Texas State University (TSU?) will host Texas Southern University (TSU!) at Bobcat stadium.

Doesn’t seem that long ago San Marcos was the home of SWT, but it’s been forever ago for many of our newcomers. We are now Texas State University, but we are not TSU.

Lots wanted the name change simply to sound more prestigious, and most understand and believe that perception is very important. But forget about that part for awhile. No one should have any question about the ever increasing caliber of higher education being hosted here in San Marcos. It’s fantastic!

Many people didn’t want to change from SWT. “Keep the original name!” was their battle cry. But that was Southwest Texas State Normal School given us 109 years ago. The original name did have a strong SWT handle in there, but it also contained an increasingly strong “Texas State” name as well.

Many universities are into 3-letter handles, including USC, SMU, UNT, OSU, (Ohio or Oklahoma?), NYU, ASU, and FSU to name a few. We had been SWTSU for many years before we became SWT. Some schools want a three character handle no matter what, so use a symbol to make their point, like A&M

But what about Universities with 2-letter “names”? OU, KU, and of course just up the way from San Marcos is UT. But to the purist it’s UT Austin, as opposed to the one in Tyler, Arlington, San Antonio, El Paso, Permian Basin, etc. Hence Texas State University -San Marcos shouldn’t detract from the significance of our local University at all.

The successful move to change from SWT to Texas State University (initiated by the student body through State Senator Jeff Wentworth) raised some interesting questions about what we’d be called. But there was no doubt in the message from Texas State’s University Advancement; we’d be “Texas State!” Partly because Texas Southern had always been, and still is: TSU.

It wasn’t long after the name change that the shouts could be heard across Jim Wacker Field at Bobcat Stadium.  “TEXAS!”… “STATE!”… … “TEXAS!” … “STATE!”   “TEXAS!” “STATE!” really developed a ring to it and our new identity gained strength.

But we’re truly creatures of convenience and soon many took up the banner and proclaim the greatness of TSU… but it turns out that many among the masses are talking about Tarlton State University in Stephenville, TEXAS. So the battle for TSU seems to rage on, sort of…

I’m not a big fan of abbreviating TEXAS. But regardless of whether I can accept TX for Texas, there’s a unique identity that could leave Texas Southern and Tarlton State alone to battle it out for TSU, and Texas State could become TXS.

I understand from some that TXS was proposed with the University’s originally unsuccessful name change, but it seemed to signify something in the concrete industry to those that might have made the change then. But it was a moot point since the name change didn’t happen the first time around.

Based on the success of the student body in creating change for our alma mater, we’ll see if they pick up on TXS, or not. Like all change, it would take awhile, but it’ll be an interesting test to see how we react to the rightful owners of TSU coming to San Marcos. Hopefully we’ll take care of the business at hand and get back on the winning track, after which alternatives to TSU can be re-visited. Who knows, it could be TXS: Texas State!

PETER BAEN, SWT/(TXS?) Classes of ’75 and ’77, and a frequent learner ever since, is a member of the San Marcos CISD school board.

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