No, Southeastern isn’t removing Friendship Oak. Here’s how the rumors got started.

HAMMOND — Southeastern Louisiana University is putting to rest rumors that Friendship Oak, an oak tree with allure, legacy and history on the university’s Hammond campus, will soon be removed.

The 150-200 year old oak, which has been part of the school’s history since opening in 1925, has been in steady demise over the past several years. The university’s rapid growth and expansion may be partly to blame for the oak tree’s decline. Experts believe that unhealthy soil conditions and root deterioration due to standing water under the tree may be to blame.

A viral Facebook post alluded that the legendary tree would be removed “soon” despite efforts to preserve the oak.

The university was quick to dispel the rumor.

“Southeastern has no plans to remove Friendship Oak,” a Facebook comment from the university’s verified account stated. “We continue to monitor its status and work for the betterment of its health on an ongoing basis. But currently, there are no plans to remove Friendship Oak.”

The tree has survived hurricanes, snow storms, ice and drought. And pictures show that the tree has seen better days. Since 2016, Friendship Oak has been undergoing extensive checkups and treatment to preserve the iconic campus symbol.

The university removed decking surrounding the tree and covered a crucial root area. Signs and fencing preventing people from climbing on the tree were also erected, and walking paths near the tree were re-routed.

In 2022, “The Lion’s Roar“, the university’s student newspaper, reported that the main concern over the tree’s health was the tree’s roots, which may be absorbing too much water. Foot traffic around the tree was also a concern.

“The drainage improvements and soil remediation will require working in the root zone of the tree with a tool called an AirSpade. Pressurized air from the tool is used to erode away soil to open trenches without damaging tree roots. The trenches will be used to install French drains and to backfill with improved soil and organic material,” the newspaper reported.

This year, the university began fertilizing areas under Frendship Oak.

The tree has long been a meeting area for students, especially in the earlier years of the Southeastern’s history when it was near the original student union and before that when its branches sheltered the “pop stand” where students could get cold drinks and snacks. A long-held tradition claims that couples who kiss under the tree are destined to marry.

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