Dec 102010
Authors: Erin Udell

When Lindsay Hestermann graduates this December, she’ll be leaving behind T-shirts, her favorite Halloween costume and memories.

The senior English education major and president of Pi Beta Phi sorority is one of the many CSU Greeks participating in senior wills, a ceremony that allows graduating members to pass on traditional items and stories.

In Pi Beta Phi, incoming members are matched with an older girl, or “big sister,” in the house who acts as a mentor. As a part of the wills, when a senior is graduating their little sister will write a letter and read it aloud, which is often sentimental, Hestermann said.

“The senior or the big sis will ‘will down’ the best stuff to their little. A lot of time it’s really random goofy stuff,” Hestermann said. “We have a ton of T-shirts, so that’s usually the most willed thing.”

While Hestermann said that most willed items are light-hearted — last year she was left a goldfish — they also carry a significant message to younger members.

“It kind of gives closure to the seniors and also provides a way to say, ‘we’re not going to be here anymore, but we believe in you and we have faith in you to pass on the legacy we’ve left.’”

In Sigma Phi Epsilon, the oldest active fraternity on campus, senior wills have been going on since the 1980s.

“It’s more about the stories that go along with the items,” said junior Billy Raddell, the fraternity’s president. “It’s a big way for the seniors to tell stories and it’s a great way to recap and pass on those stories to new guys.”

Senior English major and member of Sigma Phi Epsilon James Stuart has been willed many things during his time in the fraternity. Two of these include a great dane named Bentley and a multi-colored vest — or “nasty ‘70s vest.”

The inside of the vest has the names of previous owners scribbled in black marker dating back to 1998.

“At the CSU/CU football game I had this tailgating jacket on and some guy came up to me and said that it was his four years ago,” Stuart said. “I hope to come back and see some stuff that I used to own.”

Although Stuart won’t be graduating until the spring semester, he has begun boxing up some of the items he plans to will down.

“It’s kind of surreal,” Stuart said of his little time left in school. “It snuck up on me, but it’s very exciting. I’m happy to be leaving but still kind of sad.”

For Stuart and Hestermann, graduating will be bittersweet as they leave their collectibles and college lives behind.
“It’s time to go out there in the real world and get some new stuff,” Stuart said.

City Council Beat Reporter Erin Udell can be reached at

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