Over the summer, a proposal was made to Brandon University to remove the hedge bordering the university campus, primarily along the 18th Street sidewalk. The reasoning for the removal of the hedge was that some individuals believed this shrubbery to be a separating factor between the university and city communities, and that a more open space would encourage more cohesion between the two. Other reasons later brought up for the removal of the hedge are that predators could potentially hide behind the hedge and attack students leaving campus after night classes. Readers should know that this situation (predators hiding behind the hedge) has never occurred to this reporter’s knowledge, but was a point of discussion around the hedge’s removal.
On the other hand, there are many proponents of the hedge, including Brandon University Alum Michael Czuboka. Czuboka, a graduate of the class of 1957, had concerns that local wildlife may be displaced:
“Where will the birds, rabbits and squirrels go when their homes are destroyed? A caveat. I love birds, rabbits and squirrels and I feed them at our cottage! Blue jays love peanuts! Animal lovers like me will not be pleased with this removal of ancient BU greenery.”
Fans of the hedge fired back at this proposal with a petition. This petition notably garnered 1,551 online signatures (as of press time) in support of the hedge remaining on campus. The Change.org petition was initially started by Dr. Doug Ramsey, a professor in the Rural Development department. Ramsey is also the current president of the Brandon University Faculty Association. The petition can be viewed, and still signed, at www.change.org/p/brandon-university-administration-save-the-bu-hedge.
After the petition was responded to favourably, Brandon University Administration decided not to remove the hedge immediately and instead to include the issue in further consultation sessions for the Campus Master Plan.
Ramsey responded to this development with a message on the petition saying “I am sure those now physically close to the hedge will make sure our voices continue to be heard in the consultations over the next months.”
In addition to the hedges, the Master Plan entails the removal of several of the trees on campus. The reason for this is the same as that of the hedges: to make the campus more inclusive of the general Brandon community. While there are certainly benefits to removing a small number of the pine trees in front of Clark Hall, Czuboka mentions, “Trees, in my mind, are sacred, and I am saddened when I see mature, beautiful trees being destroyed.”
With discussions continuing, there is hope that a happy medium can be reached between an open, inclusive campus and the stately beauty of the Brandon University hedge. For more information about the Campus Master Plan, it can be viewed in its in its entirety at www.brandonu.ca/campusplan/.