The Dernogalizer

February 24, 2009

Column by me on Hillock

Filed under: Dernoga,University of Maryland — Matt Dernoga @ 9:23 pm
Tags: , , ,


So today was one of my more aggressive columns.  Pretty good reviews though(or so it seems).  Enjoy

I also want to link another column that was in the paper regarding the Hillock issue:

Sustainability: Plan to talk or plan for a fight

Matt Dernoga

I was planning on writing about why the university shouldn’t develop on the 11 acres of woodlands behind the greenhouses near Comcast Center. Kind of a bland argument, though. Trees are good. We shouldn’t knock them down for the sake of relocating buildings. Apparently the university can rationalize any destructive expansion by planting a few trees in Costa Rica to make up the difference.

What’s disturbing is the rhetoric coming from university officials. Associate Vice President for Facilities Management Frank Brewer describes the situation as a balancing act and claims the university weighed the issue of the environment. What were we weighing, a feather? Interim Vice President for Administrative Affairs Ann Wylie says she “thinks” sustainability is something the university strongly believes in, but … we can’t stop growing. So we think it’s important, but we’re not quite sure because we decided the best place to develop was the only 11 acres of forest on the campus? I think if a lie detector had been within a mile of these two, it would’ve exploded.

Equally amusing is this idea that the decision is a done deal. As if the university has broken ground. Not even close. The powerful Facilities Management Committee hath spoken. But no one heard until now? There’s this entity called the Prince George’s County Council. They still have to approve the East Campus development period. Having spoken with a couple county councilmen, our state senator, a delegate, a city councilwoman, and local environmental groups, no one is too pleased about the lack of transparency. How much of a headache does the University want to have over East Campus because of these 11 acres?

Ultimately, this isn’t so much about 11 acres as the kind of precedent this reckless expansion without any serious consideration of the environmental impact sets. The university signed the President’s Climate Commitment, and its Facilities Master Plan conflicts with the Hillock relocation project. If you don’t stamp out bad behavior the moment it manifests itself, it will resurface later on down the road. Next time it might be more than 11 acres of trees. The university shouldn’t be stepping over these plans for the convenience of development. Instead, it needs to adapt the manner of its growth in line with these plans.

This doesn’t have to be about students versus the university. Those opposed to the Hillock development are more than willing to sit down, discuss ideas and concerns and work out a compromise if necessary. This agreement could result in a different location. If that’s absolutely impossible, then the planned facilities should be as energy-efficient as possible, have solar panels on them and have strategically placed rainwater gardens in the parking lots to trap runoff. That is how you grow. That is a balance. Everything about Hillock is out of balance.

However, a stern warning must be issued. If sitting down and talking is not acceptable; if compromises cannot be made; if students are shut out of this process all the way through, there will be consequences. The environmental movement on this campus, in this county and in this state is extraordinarily powerful. It would be a huge mistake to presume you are beyond our sphere of influence because you are a part of the university’s administration. Meet us at least halfway, or we will meet you head on.

Matt Dernoga is a junior government and politics major. He can be reached at



  1. […] on investment.  Our Climate Action Plan could certainly be stronger, and there have been some mistakes, but crdit should be given where credit is due.  Nice move UMD. Comments […]

    Pingback by University of Maryland invests in Efficiency « The Dernogalizer — April 3, 2009 @ 8:22 pm | Reply

  2. […] made this post, and that post regarding the impending destruction of the Wooded Hillock, which is 9 acres of forest on campus […]

    Pingback by Save the Wooded Hillock « The Dernogalizer — May 7, 2009 @ 10:35 am | Reply

  3. […] written in the Diamondback regarding the Wooded Hillock, including one by myself, which can be read here.  The issue got even bigger with an article and editorial in the Baltimore Sun supporting the […]

    Pingback by Endangered Wooded Hillock Story in the Washington Post « The Dernogalizer — November 15, 2009 @ 1:49 pm | Reply

  4. […] so it can relocate facilities onto it.  This is my second column on the issue, I had one out back in February.  If you want to learn more about the issues surrounding the Wooded Hillock, please see here, and […]

    Pingback by The Wooded Hillock: Our Tipping Point « The Dernogalizer — December 14, 2009 @ 4:29 am | Reply

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