Iowa State student gov sponsors ‘tree of oppression’

Students at Iowa State University encountered a new form of arboreal activism on campus this week in the form of a “Tree of Oppression” funded by the student government.

According to the images obtained by Campus Reform, the tree is located on campus and appeared to have several multi-colored plastic chains wrapped around its trunk and branches. The political display was also accompanied by a “tree of oppression” sign that explained the message behind the initiative.

“This tree represents the countless identities that face oppression on campus each day,” the sign read. “Each color represents a different identity waiting to break the chains of bondage.”

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While independent student organizations frequently spearhead similar political projects around the country, the funding for the “Tree of Oppression” was allocated by the Iowa State Student Government Senate in October, 2017. 

According to the student government bill, which passed without serious opposition last year, the tree “represents the macro and micro-aggressive interactions marginalized students experience under institutionalized systems of oppression each day.” 

“The Diversity and Inclusion Committee hopes to use this tree as a physical representation of the university’s, and more specifically the student body’s, acknowledgement of these negatively impactful interactions,” the bill read. 

The document also presented a breakdown of the proposed expenses for the project, including $640 for colored plastic chains, $150 for a metal sign, and $210 for shipping and handling.

“[The] Committee also hopes to elicit implicit and explicit conversations surrounding these oppressive systems from populations that tend to ignore or conveniently avoid topics of social justice,” the bill added.

Jacob Schrader, the only senator to vote against the bill at the time, told Campus Reform that “[n]ormally this sort of stuff is done by clubs while this was a direct action by a committee of student government,” and that he felt it was “preachy towards the student body...”  

“My main issue with the bill is that it is wasting $1,000 of the money taken from students on something most students will ignore or laugh at due to the sheer stupidity of the name,” he said. 

Taylor Collins, State Chairman of College Republicans in Iowa, told Campus Reform that while he “knew the ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ committee had allocated the money last year,” he never thought “that the administration would allow something so ridiculous to be put up on campus.” 

[RELATED: Student gov to consider mandatory diversity course after protests]

“Once again we see academia working as hard as they can to convince an entire generation that we are victims of our own society,” he continued. “This won’t go on forever though, these overpaid administrators may be able to hide in their ivory tower for now, but the taxpayers in Iowa are preparing for a day of reckoning.”

Follow the authors of this article on Twitter: @benaboss2 and @marina_a_jaimes