Littered McMaster land

February 8, 2018
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

By: Nature at McMaster

In 1941, McMaster Chancellor Howard P. Whidden said that the Westdale property’s “beautiful surrounding and natural setting” was one of the most important reasons that McMaster University relocated from Toronto to Hamilton.

The vision for this move, as summarized in a quote published in the Hamilton Spectator in 1929, was that academic pursuits would be supported by Cootes Paradise.

It is this co-dependent relationship that intended that McMaster students would be able to enjoy cool ravines and marsh meadows in their backyard to meditate and muse.

At the time, Hamilton proved itself a generous host of higher learning in having McMaster be located where it is now.

I believe that both McMaster and Hamilton are still very much the “generous hosts of higher learning” that these early writers hoped for, however, it seems that higher learning did not traverse outside the classroom walls, despite the increasing amount of stewardship and conservation work pursued by these two parties.

The nature surrounding McMaster has become a dumping ground for student trash instead of academic contemplation.

For instance, in a September letter, the Royal Botanical Gardens expressed their alarm regarding the amount of litter accumulating on Chegwin Trail just behind Brandon Hall.

At the time of this discovery, RBG was monitoring and collecting data about at-risk species, and unfortunately filled a full clear bag of single-use recyclable drink bottles and half a bag of non-recyclable garbage, including broken glass and four reusable drink bottles from the trail.

Unfortunately, the more litter there is, the more people feel it is acceptable to add to the pile.

The nature surrounding McMaster has become a dumping ground for student trash instead of academic contemplation. 

At this rate, the RBG does not foresee themselves being able to keep up with the current garbage deposition rate before “McMaster’s less respectful students turn Chegwin Trail into a landfill”.

Ecological restoration work on this sensitive and world-renowned wetland is unattainable unless the McMaster community adopts a co-dependent attitude between our community and nature.

Unless this happens, it seems that the “Chegwin Trail landfill’’ will inevitably become a reality on this campus and students will no longer be able to enjoy this beautiful trail.

The solution I personally foresee i the theory of “placelessness”, a philosophy that re-imagines how people should view their relationship to the land that Dr.Coleman suggests in his book, Yardwork.

As placelessness suggests, our relationship to nature depends upon good manners: courtesy, respect and gratitude.

As students, we belong to McMaster, Hamilton and Cootes Paradise, which is a large part of our community and our location.

By doing this we will better ourselves and the environment we interact with.

As our ancestors believed, learning and nature come hand in hand.

As an institution that prides itself for innovation and respecting our land, students at McMaster should learn to live up to McMaster’s reputation by showing greater effort in respecting their environment and appreciating the ground that McMaster was built on, because at this rate, McMaster’s beautiful backyard may not be there for our future generations.

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