Viewpoint: Earning the name: Emo Park tradition at risk of change

At Baylor, sometimes the names can be a bit confusing.

For example, the English department is located in the Carroll Science Building, there is no fountain on Fountain Mall and nobody knows what the name Minglewood Bowl has to do with that patch of grass behind the Martin Parking Garage.

Another area of campus, known mostly to a few old-timers, seems to be fated to have its namesake fade to the same obscurity as Mr. Minglewood — Emo Park.

Walking by the area now one might hardly notice it. A broad concrete walkway under the spreading oaks bridges the gap between the SUB and Carroll Science.

The name that the area’s original inhabitants gave it translated roughly to “that place where the big ugly fountain is.”

Unfortunately the fountain the original Baylorites were referring to survives in name only. Archaeologists believe it was destroyed some time before electronic records could document it.

The park was given its proper name by the renowned naturalist John James Yarborough, who first observed the large flocks of emos that inhabited the park. Yarborough described his first encounter in his journals:

“I walked some distance from the main dwellings of this place and came to a glen of oaks. While walking beneath their great boughs, I was startled from my reverie by the sobbing cry of some great bird. On further investigation I discovered the source of the sound — a flock of large black birds perched along the path. Their disheveled, glossy black plumage with pale skin showing beneath has led me to the conclusion that these are the birds which the locals refer to as Emeauxs [sic]. I must return soon with my net-gun to retrieve a specimen. If I am successful, this will be the first specimen described in detail by western science. It will be a joy to have it under my dissection knife.”

Yarborough became the first western scientist to describe the species known as Emo Despairicus, from a single adolescent male that he managed to capture on the journey.
Older members of the Baylor community will remember these majestic animals perching on the concrete slabs, strutting around the park and performing their elaborate courtship rituals.

On rare occasions, birders at Baylor would be treated to the sound of the emo’s mournful song lifting over the morning mist. It would rise and fall, without any real point or melody, but on foggy Baylor mornings that haunting cry had the power to chill your soul.

Unfortunately, shortly after their discovery the emo population started to decline.

Scientists still debate as to what caused this to happen. Some claim it was due to the inability of the species to reproduce, but that seems unlikely as the population suffered from low growth rates for years before their extinction.

A more likely explanation is that they were muscled out by one of the invasive species that has colonized the area.

Visitors to the park today will notice the large population of hipsters that has swept over the surrounding area. Their hammock-shaped nests fill the trees every spring. With so many hipsters competing for space, the emo population was more than likely edged out of existence.

This seems to be the norm for American fauna. By the folly of our ancestors we have traded the mighty buffalo for the pedestrian cow, the passenger pigeon for the infuriating rock dove and the noble emo for the nattering, preening hipster.

It is our duty to take action now so our children will have more of our natural heritage than just a name.

Rob Bradfield is a senior journalism major. He is the assistant city editor for the Lariat.