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The History of the R.A.T. program
posted June 10, 2014
Hello everyone! So far on the R.A.T. Blog we have learned more about your four fantastic R.A.T. Leaders, have been given a history of how our lovely school came to be, and now we are going to discover the origins of the R.A.T. Program! I'm sure you all have been wondering how our founders came up with the acronym (R.A.T. stands for Rookie Auburn Tiger for those who didn't know), how the program was initially developed, and how it came to be the fun-filled establishment that it is today!
Once upon a time, in the loveliest village on the Plains, the founders of our noble school sought a way to distinguish new students. All freshmen at Auburn University used to be called R.A.T.s. The story goes that when freshmen rode into town on the train, they scattered as soon as they got off, and the locals said that it looked like "rats scattering". The name stuck, the acronym was made up, and the R.A.T.s were given beanies to wear. I'm sure that they could not imagine then that we would still be calling freshman this term of endearment all these many years later!
While the university has dropped this term, the Auburn University Marching Band happily carries on the tradition. In fact, as late as the mid-eighties, freshmen and first year members of the marching band still had to wear the beanies! In the beginning of the R.A.T. program, there were three R.A.T. Leaders, one chosen from each of the musical service organizations at the time- Kappa Kappa Psi, Phi Mu Alpha, and Tau Beta Sigma—to serve as Freshman Advisers in the marching band. Their job, as ours is today, was to help the freshmen assimilate to college and to ensure that they have an enjoyable time at Preseason Camp.
In 1995, the AUMB decided to open the position to the entire band. The band choose two band members, one guy and one girl, to fill the roles of R.A.T. leader. When Dr. Good came to be the marching band director, R.A.T. Leaders were chosen from each of the 4 main groups of the band: brass, woodwind, percussion, and Tiger Eyes. They not only served as freshmen advisers, but also liaisons to each of the sections. Today, R.A.T. Leaders can come from any section in the band. I'm from the flag line, Adam plays saxophone, Jessica plays trumpet, and Drew plays mellophone.
We have a long history of wonderful traditions to uphold and the best part is that those who join us at Preseason camp will become a part of those traditions! I hope you have enjoyed learning the history of the R.A.T. Program. Be on the lookout for next week's blog post, a guest piece on Auburn traditions by the AUMB Drum Majors, which is sure to be just as interesting and informative!