Live Christmas Trees in Student Center

3 Replies

Live Christmas Trees in Student Center

Posted by Carissa Outen on Nov 28, 2018 12:44 pm

We have recently received a request for one of our constituents to put up a live Christmas Tree in their office. Seeing that we are a private, Jesuit institution, we do not have as much red tape to walk through. Additionally, we are a event/student/community center all in one. With all of that in mind, I wanted to reach out to see if anyone has any input on any potential pros/cons that could come with allowing a live Christmas Tree in the space. 

Any info is helpful! 

Re: Live Christmas Trees in Student Center

Posted by Allen Flanagan on Nov 29, 2018 10:45 am


There are a few considerations I'd look at with regard to a live tree.  The first and most significant concern would be the fire risk associated with a live (cut) tree.  There may be local or state laws requiring decor to be flame resistant, which would negate the live tree.  The second consideration would be potential housekeeping issues (cleanup during the time the tree is in of falling needles and then after the tree is removed).  For these reasons, we prohibit live (cut) trees in our Union.  

While it may not look as appealing as a live tree, use of an artificial one negates the issues noted above.  

Re: Live Christmas Trees in Student Center

Posted by Kris Vatter on Nov 30, 2018 12:23 pm

We currently have seven live trees in my building, and likely at least one in most other academic buildings. It's the choice my campus has made. Kris

Re: Live Christmas Trees in Student Center

Posted by Steve Chaplin on Nov 30, 2018 12:31 pm

Hi Carissa,

So most universities do not permit live trees anywhere, but there are a few stipulations. The reason we know this is because ACUI also manages CSHEMA (The Campus Safety, Health, and Environmental Management Association), professionals in health and safety at universities, and just this week that had a listserv discussion on the topic. So here's a few highlights:

University of Arizona allows live trees, with stipulations:

Cut/Live Holiday Trees
  • Cut or live holiday trees are only allowed in some University buildings during the holiday season. Check with Risk Management Services before you set up a tree in your work area.
  • Cut or live holiday trees are only allowed in the public areas of buildings, such as main or floor lobbies. They may not be placed in assembly areas, such as large classrooms or auditoriums without special permission from Risk Management Services.
  • Strings of lights or other electric decorations are not permitted on cut or live trees. Indirect lighting sources are acceptable.
  • It is strongly recommended that cut trees be treated by either spraying or dipping (preferred) in a flame retardant solution. Recipe: 9 oz borax, 4 oz boric acid, 1 gallon water, and 1/2 teaspoon low suds detergent).
  • All cut or live trees must be removed from University buildings prior to the annual Holiday closure.

U of Virginia prohibition policy:

Michigan Tech allows one department to have a live tree, and other decoration regs follow:

Only one department (Forestry, not surprisingly) has traditionally used a cut tree in their foyer.  Here are the restrictions we've placed on that specific tree: 
Below are the stipulations regarding a live (cut) tree.  Please keep in mind this authorization is for one tree and does not extend to other areas even if they can fulfill the requirements.
1. The location has sprinkler protection.
2. They identify a specific person(s) to check the water reservoir daily (this includes weekends).
3. The tree is not lit when the area is not occupied (and other holiday decorations and electrical safety rules are followed).
4. The tree is promptly removed by December 24th.

Rules from our Safety Manual:

2.5.1 Holiday Decorations In Buildings Other Than Residence Halls and Apartments

  • Decorated artificial trees may be set up indoors and displayed starting the Monday after Thanksgiving through the end of the calendar year.
  • The use of cut natural trees is not permitted without approval from Environmental Health and Safety.
  • Electric lights and lighted decorations must bear the Underwriters Laboratories seal and must be turned off when the room or space is not occupied.
  • Decorations must be located so that they do not obstruct any exits, hallways, stairs, or firefighting equipment from view or use. No lights or lighted decorations may be placed on or near an exit sign.
  • Electric lights may not be placed on an all-metallic tree or other metallic structure.
  • Combustible decorations may not be placed in stairwells and should be kept to a minimum in corridors.
  • Lighted candles are not permitted except in supervised dining areas, provided they are securely supported on a noncombustible base and the flame is protected.
Hope that helps,

Steve Chaplin
Managing Editor