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Bob Jones grad reaches across rivalry borders

Roll Tide or War Eagle?

For one Madison resident this is about more than just football. 

“Our rivalry is more than just a game,” said SGA President James Fowler. “It’s a partnership.”

Fowler is a 2007 Bob Jones High School graduate and now the president of the University of Alabama SGA.

He has formed a partnership with Kurt Sasser, Auburn University SGA president, to plant sister trees on both campuses to symbolize the mutual respect between the two universities.

This decision was made following the poisoning of Auburn’s 130-year-old oak trees at Toomer’s Corner.

Harvey A. Updyke Jr., who is accused of poisoning the trees after the 2010 Iron Bowl football game between Auburn and Alabama, was arrested by the Auburn Police Division on Feb. 17 and charged with criminal mischief. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

“The events of Toomer’s Corner were disheartening to the UA students, faculty, staff, alumni and fans,” Fowler said. “After hearing of the events, members from all corners of the UA family wanted to reach out to their neighbors across the state.”

The trees will feature plaques beneath them describing the partnership.

“This is an opportunity to strengthen the rivalry,” Fowler said. “Years from now, fans will look back at this moment as a time when both university families came to together to publicly announce that our partnership and rivalry is based on ideals that reflect sportsmanship and honor.”

Sasser, another North Alabama native, called the partnership “an adventure” and said he is excited to work with Alabama’s SGA on the project.

Fowler said they believe this venture will have a lasting impact on fans of both teams.

“This defining moment for our rivalry is one that will be remembered as a time when the bond of the University of Alabama and Auburn University was strengthened forever,” he said.

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