For defunct Birmingham-Southern College (BSC), everything must go. Currently conducting a comprehensive fire sale of its assets by Birmingham estate liquidator Hanna Estate Services, BSC is selling the physical items of its past, such as sculptures, sofas, patio furniture, pianos and other miscellaneous memorabilia. 

BSC has already failed. It isn’t coming back. What is selling off the physical remnants of the place going to do for anyone? 

Sure, I understand the simple purpose clearly enough: sell the stuff and get as much money as possible to pay creditors. But what about those close to BSC who want to recoup what’s physically left of their shattered past?

The BSC board and administrators have already failed us by neglecting their legal and fiduciary duties over many years in safeguarding BSC’s future as they drove it to its deathbed. The least these incompetent institutional stewards can do is give us, the BSC alumni and others close to the college, our stuff back. 

We would appreciate these physical testaments to our past much more than the creditors grasping to get their greedy little clutches on these items so they can sell them for spare parts. 

Something about the whole bid structure of this fire sale inherently rubs me the wrong way. 

Alumni bid against other alumni (alumni do get the first crack at the bids before it’s open to the public), and staff bid against staff. In this flawed format, the one with the biggest pocketbook wins rather than the one who possesses a special sentimental attachment to a specific object. 

I can certainly understand BSC auctioning off non-sentimental, utilitarian items like washing machines and nondescript chairs that no BSC alumni or faculty member would conceivably desire. 

But it seems right, at least to me, to gift the band students with their instruments, to gift the artists their sculptures, and to donate the records, books and paintings to art museums or schools where they will be appreciated by the many rather than the well-endowed few able to outbid everyone else at auction. 

As a former Birmingham-Southern basketball player, I was always curious about the origins of the towering, slanted stainless steel sculpture standing outside Bill Battle Coliseum. While interviewing those connected to BSC during work on my new book, “Making Sense of the Collapse of Birmingham-Southern College,” I was privileged to learn the origin story of this important sculpture and the incredible testament of the man who created it. 

The product of Robert (Bob) J. Tucker, esteemed and beloved BSC art professor (1965-2002), this sculpture was created in 1976 and titled, “Yes.” It stood as a bastion of BSC’s beautiful topography, first occupying the library plaza before moving a hundred or so yards outside Bill Battle Coliseum. 

“Yes,” like everything else at BSC, has now become the property of the college’s creditors. What was created must now be liquidated to pay debt obligations. 

Perhaps we should give Bob his sculpture back. At least find it a home where it will be appreciated and cared for, not smelted for monetary gain or left to become an unused, profane victim of graffiti, as Bob dreads. 

The tragedy of BSC is too centered on money. Men mismanaging money, men not loaning money, men caring about money. Money, money, money…

Here, at the end, after the money has dried up leaving BSC floundering into insolvency, let’s try to step away from this crass capitalism and honor the memories of those who wrote their stories at BSC, rather than fixating and fretting over already doomed balance sheets. 

We can start doing this by giving BSC alumni back their stuff, not auctioning off the past to pay for a failed future. 

Conner (CR) Hayes is a small business owner based in Nashville, Tennessee. He is a 2017 alum of Birmingham-Southern College and a screenwriter, novelist, and poet. CR Hayes is published in various mediums, including academic articles, journalism, prose, and poetry.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to

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