Onward Debate: What’s the Best 2015 Class Gift Choice?

Over the weekend, the 2015 Senior Class Gift Committee announced the three finalists for this year’s class gift. Seniors have three extremely different options to leave their mark on Penn State, and are able to vote for their favorite gift online by midnight Saturday. To help seniors get a better idea of what they’re voting for, three of our senior writers present our latest Onward Debate: Which Senior Class Gift is the best option?

Solar Panel Array – Ted Hozza

Once again, this year’s senior class gift options leave a lot to be desired. With a vague project in the Alma Mater engraving that doesn’t even disclose where it will be located to a glorified scholarship, seniors really won’t be able to look back and be proud of what they gave the university, but we do have one option that demonstrates Penn State’s ability to look to the future. That’s right, a solar panel array.

Just this week, Penn State received the National Recycling Coalition’s Outstanding Higher Education Award, as it was named one of the “best of the best” universities in the country for recycling. With such a large focus on sutainable practices at the university, it’s disappointing that we don’t have solar panels to help power all of the day-to-day happenings at Penn State. After recently visiting the University of Michigan this past weekend, I was amazed by a very large solar farm right on the edge of campus and thought, “Why can’t we have that at Penn State?” Well, now we have the opportunity.

Seniors can push Penn State further into the future with this class gift, helping the environment and making a mark on the university. With a free form of electricity, why not make real change here? Sure, something aesthetically pleasing might be nice, but people won’t exactly reap the benefits of the Alma Mater in a concrete sidewalk. After all, it would be nice to not rely solely on the new natural gas pipeline running through campus.

Alma Mater Sidewalk Display – Tim Gilbert

I’m not one to wax poetic about the greatness of our university, often opting to tweet my affection during times of extra infatuation. Who needs to be lyrical about Penn State, anyway, when Fred Lewis Pattee crafted such perfection in 1901?

I think we all have that one thing that gets us feeling some type of way about Penn State. For me, it’s those four verses. I’m that guy who involuntary thought about the meaning of its words to me amid post-Michigan euphoria last year and started crying my eyes out, then did the exact same thing after Rutgers this year. Hell, I even posted this. The tune isn’t what moves me, it’s the lyrics, particularly those of the third verse. In times good or bad, our Alma Mater’s everlasting words remind us what it means to be Penn Staters.

But in no prominent campus location are those words displayed, and this Senior Gift is an easy chance to change that. I’ve always thought Class Gifts should serve as reminders of school pride specific to a class, and there is none better for this senior class, the last one remaining that bellowed “May no act of ours bring shame” with everything it could muster before Nebraska-Penn State. We, fellow seniors, comprise the only class who saw the darkest times of our university from beginning to end, and there’s just something fitting about words so eternal representing our legacy.

I gave serious thought to the solar panel array, but a gift of that nature just doesn’t fit what a Class Gift stands for. The responsibility to install a solar panel array or a student success fund should fall on the university; I’m more concerned with my class leaving a visible, deeply meaningful symbol of an important legacy. The inscription of the Alma Mater’s words on a “We Are” statue does not serve them the prominence they deserve. With this Class Gift, every class to come can follow in our footsteps as they take theirs.

And now, in a last ditch effort for votes, I shall force the video to which I linked above upon you:

If you didn’t get goosebumps, see a doctor immediately. Vote for the Alma Mater Display, seniors.

Student Success Fund – Yuka Narisako

Upon looking at the options for the senior class gift, I took a step back and thought again of how lucky I will be to say that I will be a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University in just a few months. I also recognized that not all people are as lucky as I am. Financial realities prevent brilliant students from attending this university. Yes, student loans exist, but in 30 years when I’m around that age when my kids are in college, I don’t want to see the disappointment in my children’s eyes when I tell them that we can’t afford for them to go to Penn State.

And it’s not just a problem for me in 30 years; it’s a problem now, for so many students at this university, and that’s why seniors should vote for the Student Success Fund. Let’s reward a graduating senior at the top of his or her academic game and give that person’s family some financial relief.

We take a college education for granted. Sure, we joke around about Penn State students looking the same, all donning Northfaces, UGGs, or Hunter Rainboots, but there are plenty of students that cannot afford these things. So here’s to the seniors who are working their asses off to keep that 4.0, and to the families that bust their asses to afford their education.

Now for the options. Let me start you off by letting you know that solar panels come up in conversation almost on a daily basis for me. I’m currently taking a 400-level course on energy consumption by buildings and my thesis team is constantly thinking of renewable energy sources. According to one of my thesis group members who is intensively studying renewable energy sources, a six-by-three foot solar panel would produce anywhere between 250 to 300 watts of electricity. A typical incandescent light bulb in a home uses about 60 watts. So, with a solar panel the size of your kitchen table, congrats, you have effectively lit up your living room. A solar panel array is an admirable effort in reducing Penn State’s energy usage, but until the technology is a bit more efficient, I’ll give it a pass.

As for the Alma Mater sidewalk, after the reallllyyyyy neat WE ARE statue that the Class of 2013 voted on, I’d rather not vote for another Penn State staple quote being written on a sidewalk.

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