I am writing on behalf of alumni and friends of the university who have placed memorial trees and benches across our campus to honor or memorialize a loved one.
Twice in the last couple of months two of these memorials have been vandalized. A couple of months ago an entire plaque and cement base were stolen from an evergreen tree on Slant Walk that was placed by the brothers of Sigma Nu ’64, ’65 and ’66 when a classmate and friend of theirs passed away. Not only was this troubling to the classmates who purchased the memorial tree, but this act of vandalism also cost the University $500 to have it replaced. Within the last week someone vandalized a memorial tree on Slant Walk that was placed by the classmates and friends of Jennifer Jensen, a young alumna who died far too young. The plaque states, “To think in such a place, I led such a life.” The vandal – who, by the way, is also lucky to be in such a place – disrespected the deceased and her loved ones when they ripped the memorial tree from the ground.
One could easily appeal to the Code of Love and Honor to show how these acts violate basic beliefs of our university community. These acts of senseless vandalism are heartbreaking for loved ones. They are also deeply offensive and contemptuous as to violate basic norms of human decency.
Memorial trees were planted by loved ones who thought enough of a person to pool money together to purchase a tree, and who often travel significant distances to attend a ceremony to see the tree planted. For those loved ones, that tree is an embodiment of the person who they lost, too often before their time. Whoever would do this, please know that these trees were planted out of love. They were gifts, given to beautify the campus that we all share and to memorialize an individual who was deeply loved. Please show these trees the respect they are due. They are not yours. Please keep your hands off.