Each year the Mercyhurst College senior class chooses a gift to give back to the school as a way for that class to be remembered. This year the senior gift will be a Great Room facelift, which entails renovations to the Herrmann Student Union Great Room and adding a game room to the area.
Before the gift was chosen, a poll was sent out to the senior class, and three ideas were narrowed down to be presented to a board, which included President Tom Gamble, Ph.D. and Vice President for Advancement Dave Livingston, Ph.D. The three ideas presented were a game room, a fire pit and a monetary donation to the Jenni-Lyn Watson fund.
After discussion among the board members, the Great Room Facelift was chosen.
Renovations to the room will include a gas fireplace that can be turned on with the flip of a switch, a Foosball table, board games, a pool table, a flat screen TV, a DVD player, a Xbox and Wii system and games for these systems. Direct TV will be available so that students may access channels or sporting events not available on ordinary cable.
“We want this to be a place students can go to,” Senior Gift Committee Chair Lindsay Cox said.
Wii games will also be available in the library to rent, much like DVDs are now. These games can then be used in the Great Room.
The space will be still used for events and renovated in a fashion that furniture and the set-up can easily be changed to host events as it does now. The room will also be sound proofed and enclosed in order to not disturb the activities occurring in the Great Room like movies, events or yoga.
As ideas were discussed and the Senior Class Committee spoke with Vice President for Student Life Gerard Tobin, Ph.D., it was realized that Mercyhurst Student Government (MSG) also had plans of developing a game room on campus.
It was then decided that MSG and the Senior Gift Committee would work together on the senior gift, since both had similar plans and ideas and more funds would be available. This is the first time the two organizations have worked together on this project.
“It will be more successful working together with MSG and will make it an ultimate space,” Cox said.
MSG developed the idea to renovate the Great Room at their Fall Retreat. Discussion of the idea continued with Tobin and MSG adviser Sarah Allen.
“We all wanted to ensure the space would be utilized to the best of its ability,” MSG President Meghan Hess said.
MSG was broken up into three groups in order to dedicate full focus and attention to different aspects of the project. These included a group to work on the fireplace, one for furniture and one for architecture of the room.
MSG Public Relations Coordinator Jeremy Dickey was placed in the furniture planning group.
“When we thought about it, we felt the current room had kind of a cold feel, and we wanted to make it more inviting. We want to make it more of a coffee shop lounge,” Dickey said.
More of a Starbucks feel is the aim for the room with browns and greens being the main colors. It is also hoped that the room will become more of a social outlet.
“The room should give upperclassmen a space to hang out and for freshmen a place to meet new people,” Hess said.
In order to become a part of the Senior Gift Committee, seniors could voluntarily attend meetings that were publicized to help with the senior gift plans. This year, a committee of 25 students was developed to attend meetings and make the senior gift possible.
“I think the senior gift is a good idea and is most successful when the school can have something nice to enjoy,” senior Katie Wagner said.
The slogan selected for the gift this year is “Living the Dream,” which represents the message of the type of gift chosen.
“The aim this year was to follow the slogan and the gift to be student-oriented. We wanted it to be something students could benefit from and enjoy,” Cox said.
This gift is different from those in the past, as this one will require upkeep from MSG much like the multimedia room in Warde. MSG will be in charge of dealing with issues like replacing batteries, fixing broken items and paying bills for the Direct TV package.
There is no set budget for the senior gift. The committee starts out with nothing and then sets a goal, this year being $16,000 with an expected rate of 55 percent participation from the senior class.
The money is raised through fundraisers, events and donations from seniors that can be given through cash, check or from their housing deposit. The students that donate a substantial amount will be featured on a plaque in the Great Room for the contribution.
“It’s so good to allow students to get in the mood to give back. In a few months we’ll be alumni, and we should stay connected to the school for projects and events,” Cox said.
Seniors seem to have mixed feelings about the gift.
“The senior gift was news to me, but I’m glad we’re getting one,” senior Gilbert Alderman said.
“The gift does not matter to me. As long as it’s something that can be used,” senior Taylor Murray said.
Senior Steve Bukowski said, “I think a game room is a little trivial for a college setting. But if it’s done well and the majority is happy, then that’s what really matters.”
The collaboration of the Senior Gift Committee and MSG is working well and may continue in the future.
“There were more minds for a better outcome,” said Cox. “The collaboration worked well, and I can see it continuing.”
MSG is working closely with the architect Shelly Buehler. The project and renovations are planned to start in the spring. Buehler is the same architect working on the Center of Academic Achievement building currently in construction.
The completion of the improved Great Room will be finished sometime this summer for students to enjoy the following academic school year.