On a rainy morning in October, contractors removed most of the Protest Tree near Distler House to address safety concerns stemming from the tree's heavily rotted trunk. Six feet of the trunk remained standing while College officials determined how best to honor the tree's legacy.
After consultation with students, faculty members and professional staff, the Campus Tree Advisory Committee recommended that most of the tree's remnants be used by F&M's Department of Art and Art History for creative projects by faculty and students. Some sections of the tree will be reserved for an external contractor to make ceremonial bowls for the College to use for special designations.
Members of the committee felt that the sweet gum tree near Distler could serve as a temporary alternate for the Protest Tree, given its proximity to the tree's former location and the recent use of the tree by some members of the F&M community.
"As a college, we deeply value freedom of speech and expression," said Dave Proulx, vice president for finance and administration and treasurer. "Having a good solution from the community to honor the Protest Tree that represented those values is very important."
In the early-morning hours of Jan. 7, the College removed the remaining trunk of the Protest Tree.