A&M bonfire memorial photos spark controversy

June 28, 2013 3:43:10 AM PDT
The action of a few freshman Aggies is creating a lot of anger among the Texas A&M community and even prompting an apology.

At first glance, you see young college kids posing for some pictures. But it's where they are posing that is creating a stir at the A&M bonfire memorial.

"It's a place you come to respect and kind of grieve over what happened at that place," said Denee Dimiceli, who's upset by the photos.

The pictures were posted by upset Aggies on an alumni forum, saying the pictures were taken at Fish Camp, which welcomes the freshman class to Texas A&M each year during a four-day orientation program. Upper classmen are the counselors.

"I think if they are incoming Aggies, then the upper classmen should know better than to do it," said Jack Haley, who's upset by the photos.

"I think once they get it and once they learn a little bit about the tradition and culture of A&M and being an Aggie, they would respect the memorial," said Crystal Perk, who's upset by the photos.

"It doesn't appear to be intentionally disrespectful in my opinion," A&M alumnus Erin Knesek said.

Alumni and other Houstonians remember the accident when 12 students were killed building the bonfire.

"There was a silence and a feeling of grief. It was a horrible, horrible, tragic feeling," Dimiceli said.

Max Cadena, the head director for the program, says he wasn't there for the pictures but issued an apology.

"From the bottom of my heart for the unfortunate and inappropriate photographs that circulated briefly on social media," Cadena said. "While the actions portrayed in these photographs do not reflect the Aggie core values or the Fish Camp values, I know these students, and I know there was no ill-intent or disrespect intended to the memories of the 12 Aggies who are memorialized at this site."

Cadena also says he will be reaching out to the families of the 12 Aggies killed in the tragedy.

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