In the midst of Parents Weekend festivities, seniors took an hour out of their evenings to celebrate the class of 2020.
The first event of its kind, Christening the Quad invited seniors to gather in the Dow Hotel lobby on Friday night to mingle with friends, enjoy an array of hors d’oeuvres, listen to a live jazz band, and learn what their class gift would be.
“This is very unlike past senior class gift announcements and was something we thought would be fun and unique,” said Senior Class President Adam Buchmann. “We wanted to make it a social event for the class.”
Fundraising Chair Lucy Meckler announced the gift: 10 large, live oak trees that will be planted on the quad between Christ Chapel and Central Hall before graduation in May. Meckler explained that the class officers decided on the gift after reviewing results from a survey they sent out to seniors over the summer. 60% said they wanted something meaningful, lasting, and that would give back to the student body.
“We’re the only class who has seen the quad pre‑, during, and post-Chapel construction, which is kind of impressive because no other class will ever see that in Hillsdale College history,” Meckler said. “We thought it was only fair to bring back some of the quad that we knew when we were freshmen, and part of what that means is trees.”
Colleen McGinness, director of alumni engagement for the 1844 Society, and Erin Carroll, vice president of campus outreach and events for the organization, urged seniors to make a donation to the alumni association, either for the gift or toward the Ransom Dunn scholarship, which sponsors students who could not otherwise afford to return to college.
“The original reason I joined the 1844 Society was because I was like, ‘Wow, I would be very upset if I couldn’t attend Hillsdale. What can I do to help somebody else be here and have the experience I’ve had?’” Carroll said. “I think that’s the gist of giving back to your college: giving back to what you love so other people can love it too. It’s the building of community. It’s the reason why we’re all here.”
Seniors then made their way to the front of the chapel where Buchmann proposed a toast “to our last year being a good one.”
Senior Lauren Blunt attended the event and called the evening classy.
“It provided a nice space to sit with my senior friends and hang out,” she said. “It was a good amount of time to get together and have fun with the people who you started out your college career with.”
She added that she appreciates the choice of gift, especially because she remembers when the trees were cut down as chapel construction commenced.
“My friends first semester freshman year would hang out on the quad all the time, and there are a lot of fond memories attached to that,” she said. “The oak trees are something that will last for a really long time. It’s not just an object but something alive. It seems like a real gift that will further beauty in a way that’s very permanent.”
“It’s symbolic,” he said. “We’re planting roots that we’ll not see the full development of.”