The year is coming to an end, and for the seniors among us college is ending with it. This reality means many things to many people. For some it means the beginning of a high-paying job as a consultant, telling people with vastly more experience than they have how to run their businesses. For others it means Senior Week is their last chance to hook up with one or two or twelve unconquered crushes, even if overcrowded housing means they have to do it on the roof, the beach, or the bathroom floor. For the truly ambitious among us, however, the end of college means it is time to think about our legacy.
When I say legacy I don’t mean four years of infinity shaped glue marks, a worm composter made from a converted bath tub, or a senior thesis tucked away in a lonely, dusty cabinet. The Senior Gift Committee is on the right track with their quest for a tree in Marston quadrangle, though I would suggest a cactus to teach those ostentatious slackliners a lesson. However, when it comes to legacies, I’m thinking about something bigger. I’m thinking about naming a dorm.
Let me set the record straight: my desire to name a dorm is in no way, shape, or form related to my narcissism, my vanity, or my unshakeable feeling that Death is casting his shadow upon me. This is about doing what has never been done before.
Typically, donors of gifts worthy of a building will name it after themselves, a member of their family, or an important member of the college community. The givers of such tremendous gifts, which can amount to half the cost of a project, are usually deeply involved in school affairs. They’re people the college has worked with before, and they collaborate with the school to create an appropriate name and an appropriate legacy.
My question, nay, my quest, is to one day present the school with a not-so-appropriate proposition. After I’ve made myself rich beyond belief serving in the Peace Corps and investing in microfinance loans, I hope to offer up the funds to build the greatest dorm the world has ever seen, with the sole condition being that its name is completely ridiculous.
The titular potential was limitless. “The Taj MaHall”, “Mos Eisley Spacedorm” and “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” were all contenders, but it in the end I settled on the simple, elegant, and alliterative “Crackhead Cave.” The name suggests stalactites, stalagmites, and spelunking, while all at once evoking the desperation, euphoria, and unpredictability of the habitual narcotics abuser. It is a profoundly inappropriate name for a dorm at a college of our stature, to be sure.
But would Pomona ever agree to it? Could the college put a price on its reputation? With the millions of dollars I would offer, the school could cut tuition, raise salaries, and invest in green technology that would most certainly save the world. All I’m asking is for Crackhead Cave to be a part of the Pomona College legacy. Would it be so much worse than the legacy of making millions of dollars investing in corporations with ethically questionable practices? I don’t think so.
In no way do I mean to take a swipe at the generous donors of the legacy gifts that have made this college what it is and made it affordable for families including mine. I merely believe that in addition to pride and tradition an institution needs to have a sense of humor. In forty years, when I’m ready to write a multi-million dollar check, I hope that Pomona can find space on its campus and in its heart for Crackhead Cave.