When someone is kicked off a college campus, student protests often follow. According to a story reported on WWMT.com, a recent one at Western Michigan University’s Kalamazoo campus centered around some stately individuals that a group of students think deserve another chance — several trees that have been slated for removal to make way for new construction.
The students held a march a week after the group first organized in opposition to the trees’ scheduled excision from an area east of the campus’ Burnham Hall.
Four of the march organizers say that a letter sent to relevant school administrators has not been met with a reply. They hope the demonstration will bring about a discussion with school officials about changing the construction plans that brought about the need to remove the trees.
“We’re hoping to establish an agreement between students and the university that will include these already-existing natural areas into future building plans,” Louis Mitchell, a protest organizer, says.
For its part, the university has promised to plant two trees for every one removed due to the building project. University spokesperson Paula Davis said this promise speaks to the university's commitment to sustainability. She also said the university doesn’t plan on taking down 60 trees, the number cited by the protest group.
“There are 58 trees in the footprint,” Davis says. "Nine will remain. One is diseased and needs to be taken down. Twelve are being relocated, and 36 will be removed. So there will be 72 trees planted.”
But the students who organized the protest say that the university’s commitment doesn’t do enough.
“They’re (the trees) are already achieving their maximum capacity to provide ecosystem services,” Mitchell says in response. “This is an irreplaceable landscape. You can’t replace these trees with turf grass and small trees and have it be a one-to-one ratio. It just doesn't work out like that.”
The student group says it hopes to reach a compromise soon, but time is running out. Fences are slated to be put in next week, marking the start of construction work.