But in the near future, there might be another historic tree on campus, this one dedicated to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania.
The senior class is going to use money raised through T-shirt sales and other fund-raisers to plant a tree on campus and place a plaque nearby listing the dead or missing UNC alumni, said Ben Singer, president of the senior class.
"We want this tree to be something that will grow along with the University," Singer said.
The senior class will give a traditional gift to the University in addition to the tree, Singer said. He said research for the class gift began this summer, so choices already had been decided before the attacks.
Voting for the gift began Tuesday and continues today. Choices include an Unsung Founders memorial for the black men and women who helped build the University, a marquee for Memorial Hall and a need-based scholarship for a senior.
"We didn't need to vote on (the tree) because there was a general consensus," Singer said. "This is just something the seniors want to give to the University separate from the class gift."
Singer also disputed claims of a column printed in The Daily Tar Heel on Tuesday that suggested senior class officials were wrong in not considering a memorial related to Sept. 11 as the senior class gift.
"The marshals are very sensitive to the issue -- they have not forgotten (the attacks)," he said. If a larger memorial was feasible this late in the class gift search process, Singer said, it would have been an option.
But he said the relatively low cost of a tree and the historical significance of other campus trees made it a good choice for the seniors. "It is a solution based on the time frame we have," Singer said.
Future class gifts could focus on a larger dedication, Singer said. "I encourage the class of 2003 to plan a memorial."
Some students already have anticipated a memorial by unofficially reserving a small area of McCorkle Place with a short, white picket fence. But the location of the seniors' tree has not been chosen yet, Singer said.
Grounds Director Kirk Pelland said many factors have to be considered in choosing a location. "You have to consider how much sun you have, what kind it is, how tall it's going to be, how long you expect it to live," Pelland said. "This is all landscape architecture."
Pelland said he will work with senior class officials to find a location when they make some decisions.
While most students think the tree is a great idea, others think it should not be exclusively from the senior class.
Raja Gupta, a senior from Birmingham, Ala., said everyone was affected by the tragedy and should be involved in the memorial. "I think it should be a gift from the University," Gupta said. "Everybody should have a chance to participate."
But Natalie Jones, a sophomore from Gastonia, said the seniors should present the tree because it is their year of graduation. "I think it's a good idea because it is representative of the year itself," Jones said. "It represents life."
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