Fraternities, Hazing, & You:
Don’t Cut Down Rare Tree’s on Campus (or at all)

Three College Boys Cut Down a Tree For an Unofficial Fraternity

Pictured: The tree stump of the rare Algonquin Pillar Swiss Mountain Pine tree

Thousands of  college students around the country join fraternities and sororities. It is a tradition for pledges to participate in hazing and pledge activities which are usually wild acts that are supposed to show their loyalty to the fraternity or sorority. Sometimes these acts are illegal and there is the possibility of students facing legal consequences.

In November 2020 a  rare 25-foot Algonquin Pillar Swiss Mountain Pine tree on the University of Wisconsin Arboretum campus was cut down. The area where the tree was located is 30 yards from campus and is a popular area for joggers, bicyclists, etc. The local police and campus security acted on a tip they were given about who might have stolen the tree. 

On March 26 three 19 year old college students admitted to cutting down the tree as part of pledge activity to the former Chi Phi fraternity. This fraternity has not been recognized as an official school organization since 2015. This means it is not an official fraternity supported and funded by the University of Wisconsin. These 3 guys admitted to buying a  chainsaw, renting a U-Haul, and stealing the tree. After hearing about how rare the tree was they destroyed it and disposed of it outside of the city line.

Each student was cited a $200 fine for cutting down the tree. More details about the legal action taken place were not disclosed due to privacy laws related to student discipline. However, the students can face both campus discipline as well as criminal sanctions.



1. The fraternity that the 3 guys were pledging was not an official college organization. How might their campus discipline and legal consequences be different if it was a campus recognized fraternity? Would there be any difference at all?

2. How might the consequences be different if the tree was a more common species of pine tree? What if this did not happen on a college campus?

3. Are there any laws in Nevada that prevent someone from cutting down a tree?

4. What would the consequences be if this happened at a Nevada University like UNLV or UNR?

Be sure to provide full explanations for your answers.  For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:


Contributed by Saralynn Lindsay

Chi Phi, Fraternities, Greek Life, Pine Tree, Protect REAL, Rare Tree is Dead, Wisconsin,

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