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BU alumni fundraising to replace missing student leadership “symbol of commitment”

BU Stick Brandon University

A pair of ornate silver-ringed staffs called the ‘Senior Stick’ and the ‘Lady Stick’ were passed every year to student leaders, holders of an office also called the ‘Senior Stick’ and the ‘Lady Stick’. Photo: courtesy S.J. McKee Archives, Brandon University.

For decades, student leaders at Brandon College, now Brandon University, held a symbolic staff that demonstrated the responsibility and honour of their elected positions.

The Senior Stick and Lady Stick were students who served senior roles in the student executive of the college.

Although their precise roles and responsibilities changed over time, they were generally seen as student body president and vice-president.

They worked with the heads of other student organizations and class year presidents to help the college’s social and student life run smoothly.

The Stick wasn’t just a title, it was also an actual stick.

Each year until 1967, when Brandon College became Brandon University, the Senior and Lady Stick were each presented with a solid wooden staff, covered in silver rings that bore the name and year of every previous officeholder.

“Student government at Brandon University has always been committed to the development of rights and responsibilities, equality of opportunity and the creation of a vibrant community culture,” says Anne (Franklin) Taylor, who was Lady Stick for the Class of 1965.

“The silver-ringed sticks of Brandon College days were and are potent symbols of that on-going commitment.”

Plot twist: The Senior Stick is missing.

“At one time, both Senior and Lady Stick were housed in a wood-and-glass display case that was donated by the Class of ’66, the final year that bore them,” says Carla Eisler, Alumni Relations Officer at BU.

BU two sticks Brandon University

The Senior Stick and Lady Stick, on display. Photo: courtesy S.J. McKee Archives, Brandon University.

Each stick is about three feet long and an inch thick, with a taper.

Today, that display case is housed in the McKee Archives at BU, along with the Lady Stick.

But the Senior Stick? Nobody knows.

Some point to extensive renovations in the mid-1990s as when the Senior Stick may have gone missing, but no one is really sure.

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Now, a group of dedicated BU alumni, including Taylor, say the best way to get the Senior Stick back is to have a full replica made, complete with names and class years of all the former Senior Sticks engraved on silver rings, just like the original.

“In the transition from college to university, the names assigned to executives of student government changed while their role at the heart of the university community continued to evolve,” recalls Taylor, who is helping organize the replica.

“The recreation of the missing Senior Stick will reaffirm that role and that commitment and focus our celebration marking this 50th anniversary of the transition from Brandon College to Brandon University.”

“The Senior and Lady Stick are wonderful symbols of the connection that each class year develops to the institution, and to each other,” says BU President Gervan Fearon.

“The physical act of adding one ring atop another and presenting the stick to the next year’s holder demonstrates the passing on of culture and tradition of engaged student governance and activities that continues here today.

I am touched to see alumni who continue to celebrate their ties to Brandon College and strengthen their relationship to Brandon University by contributing to the restoration of this valuable tradition.

In fact, our alumni are a wonderful treasure of the institution.”

The drive really started at last year’s Homecoming weekend, Eisler says.

“Our alumni recognize the importance of the Senior Stick,” she says.

“With the 50th anniversary of the final class year coming up, they really felt it was the perfect time to honour that heritage and history by refashioning it.”

A complete replica stick, with engraved solid silver rings, would cost about $5,300 to create.

About $2,000 of that has already been raised.

“Once we have both Senior and Lady Stick, we would really like to have them both on display somewhere again, hopefully in the same cabinet that was originally donated for that purpose,” says Eisler.

“And wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could incorporate them somehow into the current student government?”

Anyone who would like to donate to the replacement of the Senior Stick can call Carla Eisler at 204-727-9697 or donate online at brandonu.ca/give.


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