College hammock clubs look for places to hang out

Arborists ban slings from campus, cite tree-health, student safety

It's hammocks vs. arborists on campuses nationwide.

National sales for hammocks have more than doubled in the past two years, Rachel Bachman reports for the Wall Street Journal, and one reason is that the nap-friendly slings are especially popular among college students.

"In the U.S., a hammock culture and community has taken shape among younger millennials," says Matt Powell, a sports analyst for the NPD Group. "This has helped bring 'hammocking' to a whole new level."

Amid all the stressors of university life, students say hanging out in the hammocks is a simple way to unwind without even leaving campus. Some retailers even offer college hammock clubs discounts.

Around 1 in 7 college students were treated for anxiety in past year

But a number of colleges have banned the slings, pointing to safety and tree-health issues.

Tying and untying hammock straps around the same trees can erode bark and leave the plants' sensitive under layer vulnerable, says Frank Telewski, a Michigan State University arboretum curator and plant biology professor.

"We're not anti-hammock," Telewski says. "We're anti-tree damage."

Both the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Michigan State have prohibitions in place—though students do not always follow the rules.

At other schools, administrators created specific hammock friendly areas—such as two "hammock farms" at the University of Central Arkansas. The zones feature wooden poles that can hold up to nine hammocks.

Meanwhile, despite a petition by the Hammock Club, swaying between trees remains off-limits at Michigan State. School officials have not pursued penalties—which can include 90 days in jail—for violations, instead choosing to just hand out notices about the ban.

That means for now, the local hammock club must continue swinging around off campus (Bachman, Wall Street Journal, 9/24; NPD Group, 9/21).

Thoughts on the story? Tweet us at @eab_daily and let us know.

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