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Students disrespect campus Fence traditions

Credit: Jessica Thurston/Art Editor Credit: Jessica Thurston/Art Editor

Over the past few weeks, a bothersome presence has become the companion to one of our campus's most visible traditions. The 60-year-old sycamore tree that stands next to the Fence was covered with splashes of color and random Greek letters.

While the practice of fence-painting has been encouraged by Carnegie Mellon’s administration, the Student Life Office is decidedly less than amused when that tradition leads to defacement of university property. The guidelines are put in place to provide students with an opportunity for expression and are there to encourage student's creativity, not to encourage destruction of university property and plant life.

Before the Fence was reconstructed in 1993, the tree was directly adjacent to and in front of the Fence. Photos from the time show paint from the fence slowly creeping onto the tree’s bark, due to their proximity to each other, but the tree was never purposely painted before. What message do we send when a group of visitors walks through the heart of campus and finds a graffitied tree? Not only does it make our campus look sloppy, it also makes it seem like the students and faculty of Carnegie Mellon do not care about the environment, when they clearly do. In addition, putting paint on some trees can result in their eventual death.

But the sycamore was not the only victim of this month’s paint job. The Fence itself had what appeared to be spare paint dumped haphazardly onto its posts, in contrast to the rules that specifically define the only proper method for paint application to be direct application with hand brushes. From this, we can only conclude that the offenders didn’t show up that night seeking to share some message with the campus community.

According to David Wessell, Facilities Management Services’ grounds and labor supervisor, there isn’t anything that can be done to remove the paint from the tree. The tree will be left for the weather and its natural bark-peeling process to remove the effects of this month’s act of vandalism.