By Courtney Wirths and Tom Kozlowski
Features Editor and Managing Editor
A large tree fell across the walkway behind the Music Building on Tuesday, Sept. 2, striking the building and narrowly missing several students on their way to afternoon classes.
“I was walking down the path toward the Social Sciences Building, and I heard a loud cracking sound,” junior sociology major Alyssa Scull said. “I didn’t even see the tree falling since it was right next to me, but the next thing I knew, there were branches and leaves all around me.”
The tree broke into several pieces upon making contact with the corner of the Music Building, and branches littered the pathway. The impact of the tree caused the sidewalk to crack and bricks on the building to chip.
As for the tree itself, rotting wood had spread across the trunk, but its presence only became apparent to observers after its collapse.
“The tree was dead and hollow at the base, although this could not be seen from the outside,” said David Muha, vice president of communications, marketing and brand management at the College. “It is only visible now that the tree has fallen and one can see inside. There is no evidence of physical damage associated with adverse weather conditions.”
Fortunately, no students were harmed by the tottering tree.
“I didn’t get hurt, but it was way too close and so scary,” Scull said. “Someone could have been seriously injured.”
Although it is difficult to gauge the health of trees around campus from an outside view, a local arborist, Nelson Tree, has recently been on campus to address tree concerns, according to Muha. The arborist measures the decay of trees using mechanical drilling and other tools to assess their density and hollowness. Those that pose a danger to surrounding buildings and populated areas are then marked to be cut down.
The fallen tree near the Music Building had been assessed by Nelson Tree several years ago. The arborist noted a vertical crack coursing through the tree and recommended a 1/3 to be cut in order to reduce the “weight and potential for damage,” according to Muha. While still alive, the trunked was marked by a red ribbon for scheduled cutting. The College further labeled the tree for removal this year, but the tree had died before it could be taken down.
“This tree would have been next on the list,” Muha said. “The grounds department had a plan to act, but unfortunately, the tree fell before the plan could be implemented. Most importantly, we’re thankful that no one was injured this afternoon.”
Students immediately posted the incident to social media, taking photos of the fallen tree sprawled across the pathway.