By Steven Adamo
Last month, Campus News reported an assignment given by Geology Professor Tiffany Seeley to her students, mapping the trees removed from campus due to the new construction.
The completed map showed that 360 trees were affected and that there were not enough trees to replace the ones removed.
Students who attended East Los Angeles College prior to the 2000s may remember a different campus.
In a September 2011 Letter to the Editor, Shirley Tonoian from the Counseling Department described the trees on campus as “magnificently towering nearly 60 feet in height” and complimented the original campus architects in 1948 for “clearly capturing the surrounding rolling hills landscape, embraced by majestic pine trees exemplifying the campus park setting.”
The trees grew large and plentiful throughout the decades, but the landscape began to change in the late 1970s.
In November 1979, a Campus News staff writer reported the removal of two 35-year old ash trees located behind Ingalls Auditorium.
After the roots entangled the main waterline, ELAC’s senior plumber Bill Taylor said both trees had to be cut down. “If we cut the roots of the tree, we would have made it unsafe since it would’ve weakened the tree and it would’ve been a hazard to passersby,” Taylor said.
A week prior to the trees’ removal in 1979, a weak limb split off and nearly hit a student.
“I heard a crack, turned and saw the limb fall to the ground,” said custodian Frank Gonzalez. “When it was falling, the limb nearly hit a student climbing the stairs to the cafeteria.”
This was also around the same time that concrete began to appear more on campus.
According to the reporter, “the grass-covered mall was a favorite gathering place of students eager to find a respite from the confines of classrooms.”
When the new library was built in 1979, the grass area was covered in concrete. “There’s still a need for a large grassy area on campus where students may relax between classes,” the reporter said.
“This effort to improve the aesthetic of the campus and provide a refuge of greenery in a sea of cement should be encouraged.”
Ten years after the 1984 Olympic committee donated funds for a student park on campus, the park was finally finished in 1994; after the funds had vanished.
In a 1994 Campus News article written by Randy Rodarte, the park included 56 new trees. Rodarte predicted that the park will “enhance our campus with age.”
In October of 2010, student Gregorio Inez had an idea to bring more trees back to ELAC while also combatting lack of nutritional food options on campus: plant apple or orange trees on campus for students.
“You don’t know where the food comes from, how processed it is or how fresh the food is,” Inez said. Inez got as far as speaking to Plant Facilities as well as Jacobs, the engineering company hired at the time for the school’s construction projects.
However, because of the potential expense and liability issues, it never came to fruition.