In memory of the spirit tree

Don’t worry; this column will be devoid of anti-Greek sentiment or caustic retribution at social flaws. Instead, I want to call attention to the crippling of one of the University’s oldest residents: the large banyan tree that once stood proudly beside “the Rock.”

Now, you may be asking with aloof indifference, “Why should I care or even acknowledge some tree?” Because that tree was a symbol to many students, and to stare as it was prostrated and then look in disbelief as it was risen again, this time as a shriveled shell of what it once was, has left an impact.

It may be blasphemy, or even sacrilegious to say, but that shrub between Memorial and Ashe that is supposedly our spirit tree is garbage and outright laughable. The tree which gives shade to the honorable members of the Clan of Iron Arrow and its pedestal was truly the spirit tree. Day after day that tree has stood, as a representation of our University’s strength and might, its grandeur and splendor, a representation of the beauty and majesty that is the University of Miami. It’s now gone.

Perhaps they’ll replant it, and nurture it until it grows back to what it once was. How long until that day comes? By then we’ll all be gone, even the freshmen now, who will one day be super-super-super-seniors. As someone who transferred from a college that looked like a concrete labyrinth, the greenery of the Coral Gables campus is one of the things that makes UM, UM. As I walk through campus, I cannot help but feel disheartened, for many of the trees have fallen victim to what we thought would be a weak thunderstorm but later turned out to be a destroyer. None of those trees has made quite an impact as the guardian of the UC.

That tree is as much a part of this University as is Ashe, Merrick, the Rat or even the University Center. Just as much as you have spirit for the walls, roofs, desks and teams that make up this institution, likewise you should feel it for that tree. I do not ask for a call to arms, or any sort of social movement. I solely ask that all of you take a moment and think about what it meant, look at it however you like, whether it be symbolically, or physically because it gave you shade. As long as you realize that the University has taken a great loss at the hands of Katrina, and that loss was the great tree at the rock, my spirit tree.

Jovanni Bello can be contacted at