LC’s hammock policy updated in ASB forum

Photo of student in hammock reading a book
David Allen / The Mossy Log

After several students were injured and one died from an incident on Aug. 29, Lewis & Clark administrators and members of the Associated Student Body (ASB) discussed safety concerns about the current hammock policy. 

The hammocking policy amended by the Executive Council in September 2016 is on LC’s webpage for Recreational Activities Policy and is consistent with the slacklining policy, which dictates that slacklining is only permitted in specific areas and only by LC students. 

According to Vice President of Student Life Evette Castillo Clark, “campus leaders are in the process of updating Recreational Activities Policies regarding use of hammocks on campus.” This update will include hammocking policies assessed by the current executive council. Most of the effort for the drafted plan has been allocated to Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities Jessica Carron.

“We are still comparing and figuring out what will work best for school,”Carron said. “Do we add pods on campus where students hammock in a particular era, and we set up the space? Is the tree the best option? What is going to be safest and make the most sense for our facilities on campus?”

ASB President Madeleine MacWilliamson ’24 immediately spoke with President Robin Holmes Sullivan and Castillo Clark after the Aug. 29 incident. The meeting’s objectives were to develop a hammocking policy that teaches students and community members how to safely hammock rather than restrict hammocking as a whole. 

“After the tragedy, there were a lot of whispers and talk from other administrators to ban hammocking from campus,” MacWilliamson said. “Robin said that this would be an overreaction and take away from a lot of the culture we have developed here at LC.”

LC has also hired an outside engineer to consult on structural safety. The contractor will examine campus structures, including the pagodas near the reflecting and the historic grape arbor in the Estate Gardens. Additionally, the Reflecting Pool construction will undergo further repair work. 

A structural safety forum will be hosted at some point during the senate space.

“Every student is invited to come talk with administrators,” Macwilliamson said. “At the moment we have not been able to schedule it because we are trying to respect the privacy of the impacted family.” 

At the forum, clarity will be provided about where to safely hammock so that students will get to continue participating in this popular activity. 

“We have all these beautiful trees around campus that are perfectly safe for hammocking,” MacWilliamson said. “They want to highlight those options for students with concern that students can still hammock and enjoy their time outdoors.” 

In the meantime, the hammocking policy has been stalled due to arborists’ assessment that the trees are in drought. This makes them weaker and unable to support as much weight as when the policy was first written.

Facilities will need to reassess the hammocking policy’s framework, which provides guidelines of width and diameter of trunks to support hammocking.

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