The disappearance of the Schimmel Christmas tree this week caused a significant stir among the students and staff. Call it what you will – a prank gone too far, a crime committed by Christmas-haters, or a flawless execution of a grand plan – the giant Christmas tree in Schimmel Hall disappeared on Tuesday night only to return again late yesterday evening.
Claudia Howden, business secretary, says she left the business office at 5 p.m. on Tuesday after she unplugged the lights from the tree, which Corban staff had spent many hours decorating earlier in the day.
“I didn’t even notice that it was gone on Wednesday at first,” said Howden. “I’m certain it was a prank, and that they weren’t thinking about the work that was put into it.”
Members of Administration set up the tree, purchased by President Reno Hoff, in Schimmel for the alumni Christmas soiree happening this weekend, and according to Howden, it is “the pinnacle of decoration” for this event. Valued at $200, the Christmas tree is a significant piece of Christmas cheer for students and especially the staff, as they were the ones who decorated it, and their disappointment when it was stolen was keen.
“I cried for a little while,” Admissions counselor Katy Drake said with a wry smile. “I went through all the stages of grief; at first I was numb, then sorrowful, angry, then I was in denial, and finally I was at peace. Now that it’s back, everything is right in my world.”
Other staff members were not as light-hearted about its disappearance. According to Sandy Clouser in the Registrar’s Office, Hoff told staff he was very disappointed that someone took the tree.
Seth Elliot, chief of security, whose school-wide email made perpetrators realize the seriousness of their intended joke, is conducting an open investigation, hoping that the tree-snatchers will confess to stealing the symbol of Christmas cheer. The tree’s $200 value makes the theft a Class A misdemeanor, a violation that, at its maximum, can result in a one-year jail sentence and $6,250 in fines.
The tree was found in Balyo on Wednesday, and Campus Care staff members returned it to Schimmel Hall. The tree was broken at the top, making it stand slightly tilted, which, Howden says, gives it a “more natural look.”
Students may think some pranks are funny, but most think that stealing the Christmas tree was taking it too far.
“It’s immature,” said Campus Ambassador Bridget Saether, “because people don’t understand the work that goes into making this campus look good.”
Those who took the tree, who yet remain anonymous, may or may not have learned their lesson, and when Easter rolls around, hopefully they will leave the Easter baskets intact.