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Sweeping across college cam­puses nationwide — including Hillsdale — “ham­mocking” is a favorite activity among stu­dents and nature-enthu­siasts alike. But it’s not good for the trees.

Slinging portable ham­mocks between trees can damage the bark, leaving the trees prone to infection, Slayton Arboretum Director Ranessa Cooper said.

She and campus Hor­ti­cul­tur­alist Angie Girdham ask that stu­dents refrain from using ham­mocks on campus or in the arb.

“We want to do our best to protect and maintain healthy trees on campus,” Cooper said.

Ham­mocks found in use on campus might be con­fis­cated or simply returned with a warning, and the offender could be asked to make an appointment with the deans, Director of Campus Security Bill Whorley said.

A hammock’s straps, weighed down by the occu­pants, can tear at a tree’s cambium layer, the tissue between the bark and the heartwood that con­ducts nutrients from the roots to the leaves, Girdham said. Dam­aging this nutri­tional pipeline can cause it to dry out, leaving it sus­cep­tible to decay, insects, and disease.

Ham­mocking has exploded in pop­u­larity over the last few years because ham­mocks are now portable, light­weight, and — although somewhat pricey —worth the investment, according to many pro­po­nents.

“Ham­mocking is like Christmas,” junior Savannah Falter said. “Imagine it. Swaying above the ground. The stars are so crazy beau­tiful, all bright and freckly. You’re with all your friends, and you’re too excited to sleep. It’s like Christmas Eve; that’s the best way I can describe it.”

Some cam­puses applaud ham­mocking as an oppor­tunity for stu­dents to commune and enjoy nature. Many uni­ver­sities — including Michigan State —have hammock clubs. In a viral video from last spring, stu­dents at Kansas State Uni­versity crammed them­selves into a stack of 14 ham­mocks stretching 30 feet high.

Hillsdale is not alone in cracking down on the trend. According to The Wall Street Journal, MSU and other col­leges across the United States have banned ham­mocking. Con­cerns include tree damage as well as per­sonal safety risks.

At least one uni­versity is pur­suing alter­native ham­mocking options. The Uni­versity of Central Arkansas bypassed the hammock debate alto­gether by erecting clusters of wooden poles that can hold up to nine ham­mocks at a time.

Senior Ben Strickland said, despite the ban, ham­mocking at Hillsdale will never die.

“We will still hammock between the library colon­nades,” he said. “I also ham­mocked inside the library.”