While most universities are fighting to regulate student problems like underage drinking and drug abuse, there’s at least one school with a much different problem on its hands: the students at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, GA are into hammocking in a big way. Enough so that the school has had to write hammock guidelines into is campus policy, more than once. (Read the full article here)
The problem it seems is not so much that students are setting up their hammocks on campus, but that they’re leaving them out for others to use:
“It’s a great scene to see a group of kids hanging out on hammocks with someone strumming the guitar, but they can’t end up flopping in the wind the next day.” – Brad Voyles, Dean of Students
When the hammock tradition originally began, the school deemed it necessary to incorporate the following guideline into their school policy: Hammocks must be removed when they are not in use, or they will be confiscated by the Grounds Department. Failure to comply will result in loss of privileges and can include a fine.
The school has been pretty lax in enforcing that policy over the years, which led to the current ‘hammock village’ that has become somewhat of a fixture on campus. It appears the school has finally had enough though and recently sent out the following email to students:
“One addition to the [hammock] policy for this year is that we will not be allowing hammocks at any time in front of Carter or any other part of our ‘front yard.’”
They did go on to say that hammocks could be setup in other areas around campus as long as the take-down policy is adhered to. Needless to say though, the new policy and the enforcement of the existing policies has upset a large number of students who see their ongoing hammock community as a sign of brotherly and sisterly love – a lesson the Christian college preaches daily in its classrooms.
I can certainly understand the desire to have a clean and presentable campus environment but it seems to me there are much better ways for the school to accomplish that while embracing this amazing aspect of their culture. Instead of cracking down on an incredibly healthy and positive activity and forcing the students to set up their hammocks in the more hidden areas of campus, a little bit of regulation and support from the university could easily turn this ‘problem’ into an official part of their school culture. I mean, how awesome is it that their student base is so passionate about hammocks and sharing that experience with their classmates that they’re finding they have to enforce hammock policies that are upsetting the students?
Here’s my easy solution: Covenant College just needs to setup a simple hammock loaning station for the students. You sign out a hammock when you need it and return it when you’re done. When it’s time for you to leave and someone else is ready to use the hammock you can either switch the name on the sign-out sheet or trust that they’ll return it with the responsibility remaining on your shoulders. A student could probably even have an iPhone app designed in a week to simplify the process for those with iPhones. Fines or loss of hammock renting privileges could easily be enforced if the hammock is not returned without the current problem of figuring out who’s responsible for a hammock left hanging.
People leaving their hammocks up and not wanting to take them down is not a problem unique to Covenant College, it’s something I hear about all the time from hammock owners. Sure, the notion of sharing with your friends is great, but what’s the biggest reason people leave hammocks up?It’s because most hammocks are a pain in the @$$ to setup and take down and the work involved with tying and untying knots just sucks away the motivation for a quick or temporary hammock setup.
“People genuinely enjoy being able to use others’ hammocks without having to put them up and take them down every use.” –Micah Hausler, The Bagpipe Online
I’m not saying that the only way to make an official hammock program at Covenant College work is by using Trek Light Gear’s hammocks, but it definitely makes a lot of sense. Our easy hammock setup can be done in 90 seconds and it can be taken down even quicker – all without tying or untying a single knot.
Even more important to the success of an official hammock loaning program is that the school would need to be able to implement it without having to worry about about storing a bunch of bulky hammocks, which is why Trek Light Gear makes hammocks that pack down smaller than a water bottle - a large desk drawer could easily store 10 or more TLG hammocks.
I see no reason for the school not to embrace a healthy and harmless activity the students have shown a clear passion for, especially when the work and cost required to implement an official program would be far less than struggling to enforce an unpopular policy. A student manning the front desk could easily handle the loaner process while still doing plenty of other tasks and getting their homework done at the same time. And who wouldn’t want to work at the Hammock Desk?
Can you imagine the boost such a program would give to recruiting efforts? The students who find themselves tuning out most aspects of their college tour or brochure will quickly tune in when they hear that the college offers a hammock to any student who needs it to study, read or relax on campus. It’s one of the cheapest and easiest lifestyle programs any school could implement and it comes with major marketing points.
If anyone at Covenant College would like to discuss implementing such a program, I’m happy to help in any way I can – please get in touch with me. Likewise, if you think a hammock loan program would be a great fit at your school or university let’s talk and see if we can make it happen.
As a bonus, I will donate 10 Trek Light Hammocks to the first school to put a hammock program in place for its students!
Articles referenced in this post:
“Students Strung Out Over Hammock Rules”
“A Call to Consistency: Hammock Hubbub Hurts Hausler’s Heart”