Students rally en masse to save tree — but tree does not need saving
Published: Thursday, October 23, 2008
Updated: Thursday, October 23, 2008 11:10
About 30 students, apparently called into action by an enigmatic mystery organizer, gathered at noon yesterday beneath the largest tree on the President's Lawn to protest what they thought was the administration's decision to cut it down. But the administration says it was never considering removing the tree.
"Facilities has no plans to remove any tree on the Medford campus," said Pamela Dill, an administrative assistant in the Office of the Executive Vice President.
Dill said that there had not even been any such discussion about the tree, and that the people who organized the rally were misinformed. "We don't even know how this started," she said. "It seems to be a rumor."
Justin Birudavol, a senior, said that a number of organizations on campus received e-mails from an individual named Michael Canton stating that the tree was to be cut down. Canton, who is not a Tufts student, was not present at the protest, and no one in attendance could produce his phone number.
Senior Dan Buonaiuto, president of the Tufts Mountain Club (TMC), came to the protest in a penguin suit. "He just e-mailed student leaders," Buonaiuto said of Canton. "We got e-mails [from] this guy Michael through Tufts Mountain Club."
According to Buonaiuto, his group declined to endorse the protest, although a number of TMC members attended on their own volition.
TMC spokesperson Katie Bond said Canton sent e-mails to a number of TMC members, but did not go directly through the group. "He contacted some people on TMC, but it was not the TMC e-list," she said.
Sophomore Rob Gleich, who wore a banana suit yesterday and spent the majority of the protest perched on one of the tree's higher branches shouting down to students through a megaphone, said he heard second-hand about the tree's supposed removal and thought it made for a good outlet for student activism.
"I feel that this is a good opportunity for Tufts students to get behind something. Our big goal here is to get peoples' attention. That's the reason for the ridiculous costumes," Gleich said.
Birudavol echoed Gleich, saying the protest was for a worthy cause.
"It's a movement to promote social activism on campus," he said. "From what we understand, there were plans to move the tree, so we came together to support the tree," he said.
The administration, meanwhile, feels that it has been maligned by unfounded hearsay from a person who has yet to be identified.
"I would love to find out who the person is who started this terrible rumor," Dill said.