Earlier this fall, The Daily Collegian reported on the destruction of the park benches on the mall leading up to Old Main at the Penn State University Park campus. Safeguard Old State covered the news on our “Penn State Matters” blog at the Centre Daily Times.
Yet, for all the hyperbole and indignation from student government leaders about the failure of university administrations to “consult” the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) prior to the destruction of our historic benches, endowed by the Senior Gift of the Class of 1900, almost no thought was given to how the wrongs of the administration could be set right.
Safeguard Old State now calls for the student leadership at Penn State, along with our administrators, to truly honor the spirit of the gift of the Class of 1900.
Simply replacing the benches, as has been done, is not an acceptable resolution to the destruction of these benches, which were arguably a sacred part of our beautiful campus, as much as the graceful elms — now threatened — whose shadows fall on our mall.
The Safeguard Old State Proposal
Safeguard Old State proposes that a small plaque be placed on each of the new, black, iron benches with the simple words “Gift of the Class of 1900.”
This simple gesture of recognition for the enduring role of our senior class gifts would be a humble and fitting signal from the powers that be at Penn State that we have not lost a respect or appreciation for those things which many alumni of Penn State still hold dear.
Today, 108 years after the placement of the benches on the mall, we only remember who placed those benches because each was engraved simply with “Class of 1900” on their sides. The new iron benches, though, bear no such information, and one wonders whether, in another 100 years when our university enters its fourth century and new benches will again be needed…
…will anyone then remember the Class of 1900?