Ten students hiked to the top of “A” Mountain to repaint the “A” Monday afternoon after UA fans painted the gold letter blue and white following UA’s win of the Territorial Cup football game.
ASU students once again posted guard on Tempe Butte for the Territorial Cup game but were unsuccessful in keeping a watchful eye on the “A” this year, despite the presence of several students, tents and spotlights on Tempe Butte.
“We were guarding the ‘A’ until after the game and it was still gold,” criminal justice junior Tim Jenkins said. “(UA students) did this (Sunday night) in the rain.”
Geography sophomore Elizabeth Hawkenson said there were several reasons why it is important to maintain the historic “A.”
“We have a really intense love and passion for this University,” she said. “(The ‘A’) is one of our biggest symbols of pride.”
Painting the “A” is part of a long-standing tradition on both the ASU and UA campuses in which students of the rival team attempt to paint over the opposition’s “A” with their team colors on the weekend of the Territorial Cup.
“You can see the ‘A’ from all over the Valley and seeing it painted like this hurts our pride as a university,” Hawkenson said.
ASU students try to return the favor when the game is held in Tucson by climbing Sentinel Peak — the location of UA’s “A.”
In 2009, UA painted the “A” Wildcat red despite the presence of ASU students who were purportedly guarding it.
“A” Mountain, formally known as Tempe Butte, has become a landmark on the ASU campus since the construction of the 60-foot “A” in 1938. An “N” was on Tempe Butte from 1918 to 1925 and it became a “T” until 1938 after the school changed its name from Tempe Normal School to Tempe State Teachers College.
An explosion in 1952 destroyed the original “A” and the current “A” was built of concrete and enforced steel in 1955.
The Student Alumni Association maintains the “A” and is responsible for several traditions surrounding the landmark.
At the beginning of each school year, incoming freshmen ascend Tempe Butte to whitewash the “A” to symbolize new beginnings. There is a lantern walk to the top of Tempe Butte during homecoming week and the “A” is covered in lanterns as a “passing of the torch” ceremony from the senior class to the junior class — a tradition dating back to 1917.
“We’re out here (painting the ‘A’) because we bleed maroon and gold,” SAA Vice President and bioscience sophomore Donna Evans said. “We don’t want the Wildcats up here to destroy our Sun Devil pride.”
The “A” has also been painted over for several other occasions for various purposes, including red, white and blue to commemorate Sept. 11.
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