This year”s senior class has a lot of decision-making to do in the next coming month: Which graduate school to attend, which job to accept and where to plant the senior tree.
Planting the senior tree is a campus tradition that began 143 years ago, when each student of the Class of 1858 planted a maple sapling around a giant oak tree nicknamed the Tappan Oak in honor of Henry Tappan, the first University president. The class planted a total of 48 saplings around the oak tree.
Because the size of graduating classes has grown considerably since the tradition began, graduating classes now only plant one symbolic tree. However, the symbolism of planting the tree remains the same. Traditionally, the tree acts as a way to keep graduating students connected with the University.
The “Tappan Tree,” as all senior trees are now called, is a gift from the Alumni Association. It offers graduating seniors a way to give back to the University while leaving their mark on the campus.
Last year, the Class of 2000 became the first class in the last 40 years to continue the tradition. They chose a spot on the Diag between the Kraus Natural Science Building and the flagpole to plant their oak tree.
The Class of 2001 is being asked to choose a spot for its tree by voting online at www.umich.edu/umalumni/ seniors/seniortree.html.
So far, only a few of the 5,000 students scheduled to graduate have voted. The deadline for voting is Saturday.
For seniors, deciding where the tree should go might be a hard decision to make. Many students have their own favorite spots on campus that they think deserve a little bit of shade, and many students have their own opinions about the way the senior class should leave their mark.
“I think it should be right in front of Ashley”s,” said Music and LSA senior Tom Sinas. “I”ve spent more time there than at any other building on campus.”
Some other spots mentioned include places on North Campus, courtyards of residence halls, in front of students” houses, Michigan Stadium, on the Diag and in front of certain buildings where students have spent much of their college careers.
“I think it should be put on North Campus because there”s not enough unification between the two campuses and it would be nice to make the North Campus feel like a part of the University,” said Vicki Murley, an Engineering senior whose classes are on North Campus.
The tree can be planted in any one of the numerous open spaces on campus. But as practical or significant as each student”s reasoning is, the final decision to where the tree will be planted is based solely on the number of votes a location receives.
The tree will become a permanent part of the University after it is planted at the Senior Ceremonial on April 9.