By Preston New | Contributor
It seems everywhere you go on Baylor’s campus, bright colored hammocks litter the trees. While some students stay relatively close to the ground, many make the daring trip 30 feet in the air to get a better view and show off to their friends. While hammocking has become a normal activity on campus, changes need to be put into place to protect the environment, the students and the university.
The first thing that comes to my mind when I see one of these hammocks strapped to the tree is the fact that the straps may degrade the quality of the tree over time. Baylor has built a reputation of a beautifully kept campus and like to advertise it heavily through its marketing efforts and guided tours. Besides the buildings on campus, the natural beauty that Baylor’s land possesses is its second most valuable tangible asset. This landscape helps draw students into the campus and in turn produces full-time students for the university. For this reason alone, I think the university needs to keep careful watch of the hammocks and any damage they may cause.
The second concern I have with the hammocks on campus is the potential danger they may pose to the students. An inexperienced hammocker may see one of their friends high up in a tree and decide to attempt a similarly audacious feat of relaxation. This poses a significant threat to students’ safety as they are trapped at a high elevation with minimal means of getting down if they really needed to.
Waco also has gusts of winds that could seriously compromise the safety of potential hammockers as well. Unknown factors such as these need to be given serious consideration by the university.
The third and final concern I have with the hammocks on campus is the potential risk they pose for the university financially. Baylor does not have hammockers sign liability release waivers, which could potentially involve Baylor in a lawsuit if a precariously perched student were to fall out of a Baylor-owned tree. The university needs to weigh the cost of this potential danger and take appropriate actions to protect itself from monetary and reputational damages.
The issues I have raised need to be taken seriously to protect everyone involved. The solution to these problems is quite simple as well. Baylor needs to have hammockers sign a waiver releasing the university from any and all liability. Furthermore, Baylor should charge an application fee of $15 for hammockers that would directly fund any upkeep and restoration needed to keep the trees as vibrant and healthy as they have been for hundreds of years. This solution, while potentially annoying to hammockers, is a needed fix that has been ignored for far too long.
Senior marketing major