The Lawn is a treasure not only because it is beautiful and historical, but also because it serves as a place where students can lay the grass, toss a frisbee with friends, relax on a hammock or challenge their balance on a slackline. Now, you would be surprised to find out half of the activities I just listed are technically prohibited by the University. Laying in a hammock and slacklining can be risky both to those who partake in them and the landscape that supports it. Yet, this does not even factor into the University’s rationale on banning these activities; the actual reason is far more illogical and disconcerting.
One of the biggest impacts that hammocks and slacklines have in the parks lies in the damage they can do to trees. As the anchor material that is tethered to the tree fluctuates (due to either bouncing on the slackline or rocking in a hammock), it can cause significant wear on the outer layer of the trees’ bark. Since the outer layer of bark is a tree’s first line of defense, damage to the bark needs to be avoided to help prevent susceptibility to insects and disease thus jeopardizing the tree’s life. It is important that we all work together to protect the trees.
If the administration wishes to pursue a prohibition on hammocks and slacklines, then I ask that it at least formulate a cogent and coherent argument for doing so. Although the Slacklining Club has taken measures to mitigate safety concerns and tree damage, students would nonetheless be more receptive to banning the activities for these reasons. The policy’s current rationale is deeply flawed and in need of immediate revision. If we prohibit activities such as these on the spurious basis of free speech, then who knows what might be the next target.
Summer! The sun is out, the air is warm and it’s time to dust off that hammock or slackline and enjoy all that BPRD parks have to offer. While using a slackline and hammock are allowed in parks, it is important to take the appropriate precautions to enjoy the park responsibly. Did you know that the District has specific guidelines about how to properly hammock or slackline in a park? In recent years, slacklining and hammocking has rapidly increased in popularity. Guidelines are in place not only to make parks available for everyone to safely enjoy today, but also to ensure that parks and their features will be there for all of us to enjoy in the future.