Blaise Pascal, Penseé 347: “Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this. All our dignity consists, then, in thought. By it we must elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us endeavor, then, to think well; this is the principle of morality.”

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cutting Down the Trees: Time Line of Events

The most important time-line can be told from the growth rings of the oldest trees in the parking lots. But what follows is the time-line of events in just the two days it took to cut them all down and the faculty, staff, and student response during and after. (Several faculty members contributed; the first two entries are mine; this will be updated as we learn more.)

1 February 2012 FACEL meets, apparently without it's two faculty members (John Constable / Jacinta Amaral), and at the meeting there is a discussion or announcement by Amy Armstrong about the parking lot remodel. The content of this meeting is not yet clear. (Note that Jacinta and John are both already on some of the busiest committee in the university, for Jacinta, University Wide Senate and the Executive Committee and for John, chair of the University Budget Committee and member of the Budget Task Force. Note also that at this time that the faculty is scrambling to address Budget Task Force Recommendations. We are, you might say, quite occupied.) This committee had no chair and therefore kept no minutes. It's last reported minutes (Senate website) are 9/14/2011. See this link: FACEL Committee

2 March 2012 Alexandra Norton, reporter for The Daily Collegian, publishes a story about a remodel of Parking Lot J entitled "Parking Permit Price May Increase to $102": "The current plan is to pave over the water basins in between Lot J to make more parking spaces. The construction would take place over the summer and the current parking permit fee of $68 would increase $34, bringing it to a total cost of $102 per semester." The article includes coverage of a student senate meeting of the previous Wednesday in which parking was on the agenda. There is no indication in the article that removal of trees was announced or discussed in the student senate, which apparently had more notice of something happening in that lot than the faculty senate. See the article at this link: Daily Collegian: Parking Fee Article  (Thanks to Julia Bradshaw for finding this article.)

May 23, 2012 (Wed)
7:00 am cutting down of trees already in progress in J and A parking lots
8:15am: John Constable calls Bob Boyd and spoke to him directly.  He indicated that the parking was being put in to meet student demand and that the trees (a) had not been irrigated for 1-2 years; (b) were diseased and (c) did not meet the projected design of the new lot.  As a biological aside - if the trees were still green and not being irrigated then they were pulling on ground water and therefore represented no potential water costs to the University.
8:23 am Denise Bissett (linguistics) calls  Plant Ops to find out what is going on; leaves a message
8:46 am Denise Bissett receives a voice message from Mike Frick (Plant Ops ext. 8-6930): "The parking lot is being repaved and there will be no carport type structure."
10:16 am Amy Armstrong sends out email on Bulletin Board informing the campus community that "reconstruction of lots A & J will begin on May 24; no mention of removing trees
10:38am: Ulrike Muller sends email to Welty and Armstrong (cc to Zechman, Prince, Nef, Crosbie) protesting the cutting of the trees and calls Paul Crosbie to start actions
11:00am: Paul Crosbie calls Amy Armstrong for clarification (explanation offered: trees stopped growing, are no longer watered and are no longer healthy and needed to be cut down; reassures us that procedures were followed - e.g. conglomerate of facilities management, the campus groundskeepers, the contractors, a landscape architect were consulted) - email available through Ulrike
11:00 to 12: 00 email flurry between biology/chemistry faculty/business faculty about emails and phone calls summarizing the presented excuses for the cut down (trees are sick, students demanded more parking, relevant committees were consulted) - emails available through Ulrike
2:00pm: John Constable, Eric Person and Ulrike Muller seek to speak in person with President Welty (receptionist: "no longer on campus"), Cindy Matson (receptionist: "in meeting until 3:30pm"), and Paul Oliaro (receptionist: "in meeting") and leave instructions to be called back
3:00pm: John Constable, Eric Person and Ulrike Muller walk to parking lot to document cutting-down and talk to site manager and workers about time table and planned extent of destruction; John Constable inspects trees for signs of disease and takes pictures - only 2 of 64 inspected stumps show some signs of core rot (John, please insert correct term)
3:15pm: Madhu Katti, John Bushoven, Paul Crosbie join on-site protest (please add your name if I forgot you)
3:30 pm: Paul Oliaro, Bob Boyd and Cindy Matson show up in parking lot and talk to protesters (ask John Constable, Paul Crosbie or John Boshoven for gist of it)
5:53pm Craig Berthal alerts the campus community by posting on Huron County Extract photos and a report on the devastation of trees he witnessed that day

May 24 (Th)
7:00 am Clear cutting and chipping of trees continues
8:10 am Magda Gilewicz sends a message to John Welty (cc. Arts and Humanities) protesting the clear-cutting of trees
1:00 pm impromptu press conference called by some faculty an hour earlier to inform the media about the events on campus (ch.24, 26, 47 and The Fresno Bee) (about 20 faculty, staff and students present)
4:00 pm some faculty (Paul Crosbie, John Constable, Madhu Katti, Ulrike Muller, Kaberi Gupta) meet again to be interviewed by ch. 30
6:00, 10:00, 11:00 tv stations air their reports

May 26 (Fri)
Front-page article appears in The Bee
9:00 am Matson posts a response by Welty on Bulletin Board
10:00 am Welty starts sending individual responses to faculty who wrote to him about the clear cutting of trees
1:10 pm Covino forwards Welty's message to all-faculty listserv, prefaced by his own short message

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