By Alexander Slotkin
About four hundred years ago, more than one hundred years before the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), a tree was planted in front of where Sycamore Cottage would be built in 1834. The tree still stands today, a witness to history. It has no plaque to mark its historic presence on Drew University’s campus, just like the twenty trees President Baenninger proposed cutting down.
How many generations of Drew students have other trees on campus seen pass through the Bowne Memorial Gateway, the school’s main entrance? Which trees served to inspire the nickname, the “University in the Forest,” and which continue to carry on this tradition?
President Baenninger’s decision to cut down twenty healthy trees for additional parking space, to reroute roads that run through campus, or to “beautify” the school is an affront to history. Removing parts of Drew University’s forest, altering the physical layout of the campus, is an attempt at erasing or changing our school’s history to make way for our new slogan: the “University and the City.”
While not every tree is as old as the one standing in front of Sycamore Cottage, they are all historic. Even a five-year-old tree is part of Drew’s history, growing with incoming freshmen throughout their time here.
Censuring history is a dirty affair and is not justified by the reasons provided thus far.
While parking spaces can be made and roads can be rerouted by cutting down trees, there are many viable alternatives. However, Drew University cannot be “beautified” by cutting down what makes it beautiful: the trees, so long as they stand, will always make us the “University in the Forest.”
Alexander is a senior Philosophy and English double major.