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Senior class deviates from tradition, sets new precedent

Senior class representatives Andrew Carter and Rebecca Williams announce the gift to the 2018 class. Photo: Stephen Dysert

“I have been campaigning since freshman year for a forty-foot-tall statue of Brody and Dr. Pettit wrestling,” Andrew Carter jokingly said about his idea for this year’s senior class gift.

Carter and Rebecca Williams, senior class representatives, have been planning this year’s senior class gift since last semester.

Although senior class gifts are traditionally announced during Commencement, the representatives have deviated from that tradition by announcing the 2018 gift to seniors last week.

During the senior meeting on Friday, Feb. 2, Carter and Williams revealed the gift  to the senior class gathered in Rodeheaver while juniors and underclassmen attended society meetings as normal.

The gift is a long-standing tradition at Bob Jones University. “The purpose of the senior class gift is to give the seniors an opportunity to leave a legacy from our class that can change and improve the University,” Carter said.

Carter said the unprecedented meeting follows some changes to how the gift is decided and funded.

“This year’s the first year there is no money set aside,” Carter said. “So this is going to be one hundred percent fundraised by the seniors.”

According to Carter, in previous years the university would always set aside some money for the gift, and then the seniors could contribute as well.

Consequently, this will be the first year the senior class will have to raise money to fund their gift.

President Steve Pettit, who often refers to himself as an honorary membor of the class, has agreed to give to the senior gift if the senior reach their participation goal.

The class of 2018 is the first class to have spent all four years under Pettit’s administration. Consequently, the class and Pettit have had a special bond.

The president even has a photo of the class as freshmen on his office wall.

Williams and Carter said they sent a survey and also spoke with many seniors to think of ideas for the gift.

According to Carter, he and Williams personally choose the gift based on the feedback they received from the senior class.

Carter said the senior meeting gave seniors an opportunity to see the gift and give feedback. The gift can be rethought if the current idea receives negative feedback, according to Carter.

According to Williams, the senior class gift is something the entire senior class can rally around.

“While we’re the ones who personally choose it; we’re representing what [the seniors] want, not just what we want,” Williams said.

Williams said there have been bigger projects that have required funds of previous senior class gifts, such as Palmetto Green, for which two or three senior classes donated money. However, this class gift will be solely given by the current seniors.

While the gift has been unveiled to the senior class, the senior class reps will officially present the senior gift to Pettit during Commencement in May.