Seniors plan to leave Principia with a parting gift of a gas-burning fire pit. It is customary of graduating classes to make a such a donation as a way of saying “thank you” to their alma mater, in addition to “willing” inheritance of house memorabilia, or the bestowal of a graduate’s favorite pajama pants to a lucky underclassman (which is custom in the houses).

The fire pit is intended to be an outdoor gathering spot that will bring together the community and foster a sense of fellowship. It will therefore call the Pub patio its home. Last year’s senior gift was the Keurig station in the student center, which has the capability to make hot chocolate, coffee, and tea. While a welcome addition, this year’s class wanted to set its sights on a gift that would facilitate more group activity for the campus.

The path from the current planning stages to the actual installation, however, is long. Senior Emily Osborne, the Brooks House representative for the Senior Gift Committee, admitted that “This is a pretty ambitious undertaking.” The usual amount classes have raised in the past is between $800 and $1,600. But construction for the proposed fire pit idea will cost of $4,000. Principia will match donations, bringing the goal for the Senior Gift Committee to a more feasible goal of $2,000.

Senior Jamison Rybak, the Lowrey House representative, noted that this year’s senior class has devised alternative methods for raising funds. “Instead of relying only on contributions from our class, we will be reaching out to the community for help through fundraisers,” he said. Planned fundraisers will include “Panera Nights” during Week Seven, in which the Alton Panera will donate a percentage of their earnings to the class gift. There will also be a senior talent show, where spectators may see the many abilities of the senior class for a small admission price. A colorful senior calendar will also be made available for purchase later in the semester.

Osborne and Rybak hope that the fundraisers and class contributions will be enough to fund the fire pit. However, senior Lauren Furbush notes that she and others have reservations about contributing to the project due to Principia’s anti-gay policies.  Furbush notes, “If the gift is a huge painting that says, “This class supports equality and changing the policy discriminating against homosexuals,” then I am all in.  However, if the gift is a bench or a rock or something trivial, I am not going to support it as wholeheartedly given the more pressing issues our class could address”.

While some feel conflicted about donating to the gift, Osborne believes that the seniors will raise the funds in gratitude for their overall Principia experiences. “Gratitude is at the heart of this project. Everyone at Principia has benefitted from the generosity of donors, either directly through scholarships and financial aid or indirectly through the affordable tuition,” she said. “The senior gift is an opportunity for us to begin to quantify the value of a Principia education and give back to the institution that has given us so much.”

Correction: The print version of this article inaccurately represented Lauren Furbush’s views about the senior gift.