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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Copper for a cause

Sul+Ross+Pennies
Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker
Sul Ross Pennies

Finals are starting up and with that comes an influx of cash for one recognizable individual on campus. The statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross — better known as “Sully” — will be littered with pennies and other forms of currency. But since a statue can’t spend that money, it is instead donated to charity each year.
As students pass by the statue, they place pennies at his feet before a test. The tradition of putting a penny on Sully stemmed from when Ross was the university president of Texas A&M, then known as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. Students would often come to his office seeking advice or academic help, and when asked how they could repay him, Ross would simply respond, “A penny for your thoughts.”
While it is one of A&M’s oldest traditions, the pennies aren’t just left there. Each week the coins are collected and donated to the selected charity. This year that charity is the 12th Can Foundation, a student-run food pantry which serves the students, staff and faculty of Texas A&M.
The selection process of which charity the money will go to is up to Student Senate.
“The Student Senate decides which organization receives the pennies, and they then get to use it or gift it to a charity of their choosing” said Olivia Brown, senior director of the 12th Can Foundation and psychology senior. “The pennies go to The 12th Can, and we then in turn use that money to purchase food for our clients.”
Joseph Hood, speaker of the 69th session of Student Senate, said charities apply to be selected to receive the money from the statue.
“Charities get chosen biannually by the student body president through an application process,” Hood said. “After solicitation, the SBP picks the charity that will receive the money, and their pick is then confirmed by the Student Senate.”
Brown said it’s difficult to estimate how much gets donated per year, as they haven’t been collecting long.
“It’s hard to say how other years look,” Brown said. “From our own observations, there are significantly more pennies on Sully during test weeks and finals than on non test weeks.”
The students who leave the pennies on the Sully statue are sometimes creative with their donations.
“I have seen a cowboy hat that had pennies glued all over it,” said Matlie Boos, accounting graduate student and 12th Can’s financial director. “That was really cool and hard to get the pennies to come off.”
Students also choose to leave things other than pennies at the statue.
“We do get several gift cards, liquor bottles, playing cards and so much more,” Boos said. “Unfortunately, we have to throw all of this away, including the gift cards. We are only allowed to use U.S. currency.”

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