Senior Class Gift Choices Revealed, And They Suck

This year's choices for the Senior Class Gift aren't nearly as good as the Class of 2011 Lt. Michael Murphy Veterans Plaza, whose unveiling is shown here.

I don’t envy the Senior Class Gift Committee. Tasked with finding the three best out of more than 120 submitted ideas is no easy task, especially when measured against university concerns and realities. As much as we might have wanted an fully animatronic 80-foot Robocop defending the Old Main lawn, something that awesome simply isn’t feasible.

It’s a thankless job that the Committee has, and that’s why I have difficulty ripping them unconditionally, no matter how underwhelming the approved options might be. I can’t speak for how they were chosen, but only to the choices before the student body.

Students can choose between a trio of ideas, which were released on Monday, and open for voting until this Friday. The first is a Trustee Scholarship, an endowment of $20,000 per year–partially matched by the University–to be distributed amongst students with a financial need for it. Option number two is a “historical display” beside the Lion Shrine that would speak to the history of the monument. And behind door number three is a restoration of the frescoes that line the walls at Old Main.

Now, here’s my gripe with the final three ideas: None of them really do anything to further the legacy of my Class of 2012. It was a brilliant promotional move by the Senior Class Gift Committee to cover up past class gifts, because only then did we notice how important these annual contributions to our school have been. From the Allen Street Gates to the Old Main Clock, to George Atherton’s grave, to the HUB Aquarium, they make up a major part of the fabric of Penn State, and commemorate the graduates of those years.

And yet two of the three suggestions are to refurbish or improve gifts that were already given years ago, by another class. The Lion Shrine came from the Class of 1940–and 72 years later, all we could do is put a little sign to it? Four different Senior Class Gifts went into funding the Old Main frescoes–but now, it’s an administrative building that students rarely step foot into. Are we really expected to give our money so that Graham Spanier can have a better view from his office?

And while a scholarship in the name of our class would certainly impart the type of positive change that these gifts are supposed to, I question how many students out of a university of 40,000–hell, of 90,000 students–would benefit, or even know that it exists.

Look, I don’t know how all the suggestions were whittled down to these three. Maybe there were some awesome ideas in the fold that the University shot down for one reason or another. Maybe the Senior Class Gift Committee was hamstrung, and knows full well how bland and unappealing the choices they’ve presented to the student body are.

But it’s ultimately frustrating that one day in the future, when I bring my kids or grandkids to visit the school I will be proud to call myself an alumnus of, there will be little visible evidence of my graduating class.

And if that’s the only choice before me, I’ll give my money to someone who could use it. I plan on forwarding my $100 or so dollars to one of the clubs I’ve been a part of over my four years here, rather than to my Senior Class Gift.

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About the Author

Devon Edwards

Devon is a 2012 Penn State graduate and current law student at NYU. Devon joined Onward State in January of 2011, after a lengthy stay in the comment section. His likes include sabermetrics, squirrels, and longs walks on the beach, and his dislikes include spelunking, when you put your clothes in the dryer and they come out still kinda damp but also warm, and the religious right.

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