May 16, 2016, BY Heather Johns

Bucknell University seniors use the eco-friendly study space outside Academic West
Bucknell University seniors use the new eco-friendly study space; photo by Brett Simpson, Division of Communications

The Bucknell University Class of 2016 hopes to turn trend to tradition with their class tribute — an outdoor, eco-friendly study space nestled between Bertrand Library and Academic West.

The Classes of 2014 and 2015 presented the University with the first sustainability-themed tributes: solar panels and an energy-tracking ECO screen. Connor McLaughlin '16, senior class president, said there was no question that the Class of 2016 would follow suit. "The last few years' class tributes have had a sustainability component, and we definitely wanted to continue that tradition," he explained.

"The tribute is a wonderful space for students to gather to study and enjoy Bucknell's beautiful campus and surroundings," said Bucknell University President John Bravman. "It represents the spirit of togetherness and social responsibility that the class has represented throughout its time here."

Choosing the tribute began in October 2015 with a survey sent to the Class of 2016. "We solicited their ideas and their preferred location for the tribute," said McLaughlin. "The only guidelines from the University were that the tribute be aesthetically pleasing but also serve a function."

Survey results included the suggestion for an outdoor work space, and after some discussion, "we rolled with that idea," said McLaughlin.

The eco-friendly study space is easily accessible from the new South Campus Apartments, and has six picnic tables made from 100-percent recycled plastic. The tables sit atop a stamped concrete patio and are equipped with power outlets.

"Because it's technology friendly, I think it will be a space that's used a lot," said McLaughlin.

McLaughlin added that to be sure the study space is accessible to everyone, "we made sure that one of the tables is ADA compliant."

Bucknell Student Government breaks ground on the Class of 2016 senior tribute
Members of Bucknell Student Government break ground on the eco-friendly study space outside Academic West; photo courtesy of Connor McLaughlin

As the academic year winds down, seniors hear about the Senior Gift Drive and the class tribute. The two are often confused, said McLaughlin, but the distinction is important.

"The senior class tribute is different than a gift to the University," he explained. "The tribute designation was implemented to help define the difference between the Senior Gift Drive and the way the graduating class has chosen to honor their time at the University."

The Senior Gift Drive allows money donated by members of the graduating class to be designated toward any area; however, elected Bucknell Student Government officials have been raising money for their class tributes since their first year at the University.

McLaughlin said the Class of 2016 sold stickers and long-sleeved T-shirts sporting "Home is Where the Herd Is" and held fundraisers with local businesses. The class has partnered with the University to fully fund their tribute.

Though he's proud of their gift, McLaughlin said he hopes people will remember the Class of 2016 for more than a convenient outdoor space to write a paper or cram for a test.

"Our class contributed a lot to the University, and the gift itself is just one example of our contributions," he said. "The Class of 2016 is filled with leaders who have had a lot of impact on University programs. Thinking about all we've accomplished — and all we will accomplish — is humbling."