The Chronicle’s View: Senior class gift requires money, time and serious thought

Every year, the senior class president is charged with the task of creating and implementing a gift to donate to the U on behalf of all graduating seniors.

This can be a daunting task, with the coordination of funds, pressure of living up to gifts from previous years and, of course, the inescapable deadline of doing it all by the close of Spring Semester.

But chances are that if talks to that effect begin in late March or early April, it’s already too late to come up with something long lasting and meaningful to the U’s campus community.

With nearly 4,500 undergraduate degrees handed out last year, it would seem sensible to donate a gift that would reflect the interests of all those students.

Talks this year are focusing on the creation of a one-time scholarship for seniors, estimated at a cost of $2,000-though Senior Class President Beth Brown says she’s working to raise money from other areas to boost that figure.

But then again, allocating just $2,000 to such an important venture and expecting it to be enough to donate anything of substance is unrealistic and unfair-especially looking at the budgets for the senior class gifts in years past.

Just last year, the Associated Students of the University of Utah found $6,000 for the senior class gift. Then Senior Class President Jessica Judkins responded by using the money to help commission student artists create art along the new TRAX extension line up to U Hospital.

In 2000-2001, ASUU’s senior class president was able to use an $8,000 budget to plant trees in Red Butte Garden.

But this year’s plan isn’t the first time a senior class gift has come together at the last minute-and we should at least be thankful it’s even happening at all.

During the 2001-2002 school year, senior class president Clara Pugsley and her staff had an idea, but no clue.

They planned on erecting an electronic sign at the intersection of 500 South and Guardsman Way.

To this day, the ground has yet to be broken on that project.

Funding and logistics were cited as standing in the way of meeting that vision.

If ASUU truly believes a senior class gift is a viable project, it needs to back that up by providing money to make that happen.

However, it’s not just a problem of insufficient funding. Next year’s senior class president, Sara Hogan, needs to take the task of establishing a senior class gift to heart, and begin gauging student interest in October or November so that by March or April, an in depth, cogent and reasonable plan can be given to other student-body leaders to ensure such a vision can be met.