Wheelock organizes tree protests

By Jordan Freisleben

The Jacaranda tree in the Rugby garden adjacent to the drama lab was cut down on May 7 in order to accommodate a temporary structure for silent study, Head of Campus Operations JD DeMatté said.

The library, including the silent study area, will be closed for a year while construction on the Kutler Center, which will form a bridge between Seaver and the library, will take place. DeMatté said that the rest of the library will be put in Chalmers East.

“We wanted to keep silent study fairly close and convenient for the faculty who work there,” he said.

English teacher Martha Wheelock said that the tree should not have been cut down and that students and other faculty members should have been informed of the school’s decision. Wheelock and several of her students made posters criticizing the tree’s removal and put them around the Rugby courtyard.

The poster reads “Who cut down this beautiful old tree, destroyed nature herself — for just a temporary human building,” accompanied by a photo of the Jacaranda tree before it was cut down.

“I would think that a tree, that’s probably 75-years-old, could have been spared — it was a beautiful species of a California Jacaranda tree and they could have found a better place for silent study,” Wheelock said. “I was just tragically saddened that something as permanent as a 75-year-old tree could be cut down for a temporary trailer-like building which probably could have been put somewhere else.”

Wheelock said that the space was often used by English teachers to hold classes.

“It’s an invasion of that [unique] space that’s around where kids can sit on the grass and do poetry,” she said. “[English teacher] Jeremy Michaelson [held classes there], and I have done that in the past.”

“I’m not an advocate for cutting down trees,” DeMatté said. “We worked very hard to find another place for the room, but honestly, it was the only flat space we could find on campus.”

“This is really a very human thing,” Wheelock said. “We damage things for improvements without asking Mother Nature if she has any voice in it when we have been taking so much [from Mother Nature] to be thankful for — I just feel passionately about it.”

Photo gallery of tree removal: http://bit.ly/lFTJxt