Plenty of snow — and trees — have fallen this winter

Thomas Cordy

With increased enrollment and campus renovations, officials are neglecting their responsibility to preserve Western’s natural beauty.

Instead, they are hacking away trees and shrubbery.

Western has been dusted several times this academic year with an unlikely amount of snow. The last five winters have been quite barren, and it is rare for a snowy blanket to cover the Hill.

Following the rapid change from fall, a wintry death entombs the Hill.

Dark, naked skeletons of oaks and maples hover over yellow-stained grass that fills the wind-swept spaces from Cherry Hall to Zacharias Hall.

The stony landscape of cement, rocks and the fine arts center facade add to the dreariness.

Evergreens break this visual monotony of winter slumber and hint at a spring season to come. Evergreens in the form of trees, bushes and shrubs spruce up the monochromatic march to class.

But recently, campus officials decided to chop away some of this green plumage as temperatures warmed and the snow disappeared.

Echoes of students’ footfalls against the metal stadium seats of the colonnade were drowned out by the heavy drone of a chain saw as workers cut down a stand of evergreen bushes.

As workers hacked away, the five-foot-tall bushes fell down the short hillside to gather in a death pile.

There they lay with the last few remnants of snow that were still fighting hard against a warming sun.

Later, two campus groundskeepers surveyed the new landscape from atop an FAC walkway.

“I don’t know why they decided to cut them down,” one of the workers said from behind the scarf under his pullover hood.

Plans are underway for more evergreen bushes to get the axe around FAC and McCormack Hall.

“Around McCormack for safety reasons,” the other worker said. “It’s just too easy for someone to hide in those bushes and jump out at ya.”

As for the fate of the shrubbery around the library, the groundskeeper offered little insight. The bushes line the hill that faces down toward Normal Drive.

“If students get to messing around up there, it wouldn’t take much for them to tumble down,” he said. “And if you ask me, it looks pretty scabby down there. The bushes kind of cover that up.”

The plan to replace the greenery is questionable.

“Sprinkle some grass seed and hope it grows up,” said one of the groundskeepers.

Landscape Manager Greg Fear and other campus officials stop here. The greenery on campus is continually being ravaged to make way for new buildings, more parking and other concrete renovations.

Remember when Western was closed for snow in 1996? Those evergreens held up that snow in large, billowy clumps that made the Hill a true living snow globe.

The remaining evergreens should be kept around for seven more years in hopes that classes will be canceled again and students can enjoy Western’s winter wonderland.

Thomas Cordy is a senior photojournalism major from Stevens Point, Wis.