Something to remember them by: 2017 senior class gift to be a hammock hangout

by Jordan Coleman | Staff Writer

This year’s senior gift choice is officially decided. Soon Whitworth will have its very own hammock hangout.

A designated hammock area will be constructed between Arend Hall and the library provided by the graduating class of 2017. Every year, the seniors brainstorm gift ideas to present to the school. In previous years, the school has been gifted with several benches and a fountain.

This year’s gift choice is special because although it is a contribution to the remaining students, it is also in remembrance of a fellow student, Craig Dobis, senior class coordinator Gretchen Van Lith said. Dobis was part of the senior class of 2017, studying political science. He became ill with cancer and passed away in November of 2016. Dobis was well known for his warm welcome and caring personality. Students wanted to find an opportunity to embrace the influence he left on campus. In memory of him, the hammock hangout will be next to Arend where Dobis lived his sophomore year, and include a plaque crediting the class of 2017 and Dobis.

“It is a way to honor him and build the community as well,” Van Lith said.

Several ASWU members discovered this idea when coming across a similar design at Riverview Bible Camp. When they saw the big circle of hammocks, they thought it would be an awesome addition to Whitworth’s campus, senior Brenna Bruil, ASWU public relations and marketing coordinator said. To come up with gift choice ideas, Van Lith collected input and suggestions from the senior class committee and other peers. The hammocks received the popular vote over the additional ideas of installing a new bench or creating a sculpture out of wood from the fallen trees during the windstorm in 2015.

“Most people at Whitworth like interacting in the hammock style,” Van Lith said. “Also, the hammocks would fill the areas where trees have fallen, surrounding the students with nature.”

The hangout will consist of an open top with five metal poles placed in a circular formation, secured into the ground with concrete. This will allow six hammocks to be attached at one time. In order to establish this space, the senior class will fundraise $3,000.

There are over 500 students who qualify as seniors based on their credit standings, and it is a chance for them “as a class, to come together,” Van Lith said. If every senior donates to the cause, the amount of contribution for each person would be relatively small. It is hoped that the majority of the fundraising comes from the seniors since it is their gift to the school. However, all donations are greatly appreciated Van Lith said. If students raise at least $1,500 towards the project, there are several faculty and staff members willing to fund the remaining amount said Dale Hammond, director of alumni and parent relations and annual giving.

“Students will be asked to pay $20.17 to symbolize their graduation year,” said Hammond.

This helps put a meaning to the donation and will hopefully encourage more students to partake in the project.

Soon there will also be a table in the HUB that will collect additional donations. Once the necessary funding is collected, construction would start after graduation, and the hammock hangout would be finished prior to move in day so that students could use it all fall long.

Seniors in ASWU are pleased with this gift choice, and they are excited to come back and use it themselves.

“I think it sounds like a super cool idea, especially since we don’t have a lot trees in that area,” said senior ASWU senator Emily Gates. “The location will be nice because it’s in the middle of campus, which is a nice medium.”

The location allows students to have more accessibility to the area, as the library is a popular destination.

“I think it’s unique to Whitworth.” Van Lith said. “Prospective freshmen will want to use it, and seniors will have to come back and use it as well.” She also said that Dobis would have enjoyed it.

“It’s a way for us to leave our mark,” Van Lith said.

The website to which anyone can donate is

Contact Jordan Coleman at

An earlier version of this article incorrectly states the hammock hangout would hold five hammocks instead of six. It also states the remaining amount of money needed to fund the project will be provided by one generous faculty member. Instead, several faculty and staff will help fund the project.