By Julia Potts
Published Jan 19, 2021
The route 36 bus, previously known as “Cotton Bowl,” has officially been changed to honor the late Matthew Gaines — a Texas senator who promoted the creation of Texas A&M.
A&M Transportation Services announced this change in multiple tweets, the first of which occurred on Jan. 4. The tweet stated that the name change would be effective Jan. 5, and the route and bus stops would remain the same. Before this announcement, funding was also secured in the fall of 2020 to erect a statue of Matthew Gaines in the future.
Computer engineering junior Fawaz Syed serves as the student services chair in Student Senate and oversees student transportation among other duties.
“The idea came when I was communicating with Matthew Gaines [Society] leadership,” Syed said. “I thought there should be a way we can find a way to honor Matthew Gaines other than just the statue.”
The process required the approval and recommendation of many parties to get the name change passed, Syed said.
“The process involved a lot of layers. It started back in March. I had contacted [the] Transportation Services Advisory Committee to look into the idea,” Syed said. “We presented the idea in September to the committee. The committee voted to move forward and collect student org[anization] recommendations, so that included Matthew Gaines Society, Student Senate, Student Government, GPSG and Traditions Council.”
Political science senior Erica Pauls, Matthew Gaines Society president, was also involved in the discussion with Transportation Services. After proposing the idea to Transportation Services, Pauls said she approached the Student Senate among other organizations to gain approval from the student representatives.
“Once we got approval from student representatives, we were already in the ear of the TSAC board,” Pauls said. “We were able to move forward with good conscience that it was something the student body supported, but also something the Transportation Services were all on board with.”
Syed said working with the Student Senate on this idea involved a lot of consideration for the student body, from which the senate received much approval.
“Student Senate represents a wide range of opinions and beliefs,” Syed said. “What makes it really beautiful is seeing how you get a majority of the senate to agree on an idea.”
Madeline Dillard, assistant director of Transit Transportation Services, said Transportation Services was pleased to be able to help students make this change, knowing the history of Matthew Gaines.
“Matthew Gaines, serving as a senator in the Texas Legislature during Reconstruction, played a significant role in addressing the rights and interests of African Americans and was instrumental in assisting the Texas Legislature with taking full advantage of the Land-Grant College Act of 1862, which created the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, now Texas A&M University,” Dillard said.
Recreation, park and tourism science senior Peyton Liebler, art commemoration chair for the Matthew Gaines Society, said this name change is a dream come true for the society.
“I think it’s just really cool to see that the student body actually took charge on their own accord to make the bus route happen,” Liebler said.
Syed said the bus routes are named after different events and ideals at A&M. For this same reason, Pauls said the name change means a great deal, as the Matthew Gaines Society aimed to create something with more outreach and tangibility by renaming bus route 36.
“When we think about the bus routes, we think about the names of them. They all pinpoint a facet of Texas A&M’s history, culture [and] tradition,” Pauls said. “It means so much that Matthew Gaines, someone that was an integral part of this university’s founding, is going to be a part of that, is going to be highlighted as an important facet of Texas A&M.”
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