By Helin Gao
Following protests last summer by Escondido Village (EV) residents, Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) Student Housing has rescinded the proposed treatment of EV family courtyard lawns with herbicide.
The University had previously planned to use contracting company Colony — which handles landscaping for Student Housing — to kill weeds and clover on the lawns. Instead, Housing will replace sections of the lawns with new sod and seeding as needed.
“In response to the concerns expressed by residents of the family courtyards, it was communicated last summer that we have directed Colony not to use any herbicides in the maintenance of the family courtyards,” wrote Rodger Whitney, executive director of R&DE Student Housing, in a statement. “Instead, replacement of sections of sod will occur to control weeds.”
The controversy initially arose last summer when EV residents were notified in an email that Colony had reached an agreement with R&DE Student Housing to implement a two-day chemical treatment of the family courtyard lawns in response to clover and crabgrass.
A multi-million dollar donation to renovate the grass turf in EV’s family courtyard was made four and a half years ago by John Arrillaga ’60. At the time of the donation, the University promised to “maintain the donor’s gift.”
Before last summer, weeds were removed by Colony manually, but the clover had since grown to the point where chemical treatment, like herbicides Teflon and Speedzone, was deemed necessary to remove it.
Some EV residents, however, didn’t see the need for a more aggressive approach.
“I think it looks great,” said James Redfield, a third-year graduate student in religious studies and a family courtyards resident. “I mean, I don’t see the problem. I guess there is some clover, [and] there are some weeds that can’t be treated by just manual means and need some chemical treatment, and that is what the whole debate was about during the summer.”
Family courtyard residents — usually young families — were a particular area of concern.
“People have varying degree of sensitivity, and the children play on the grass,” Redfield said. “I don’t think the housing office necessarily took into account that the children may literally be eating the grass.”
R&DE Student Housing and Michael VanFossen, senior associate director of R&DE Student Housing, specifically were quick to organize a town hall last summer after hearing of concerns, with their response widely praised by the residents in attendance.
“No herbicides will be used in the family courtyards,” Whitney confirmed.