Minggu Haluan Siswa, or Orientation Week, is a huge event in any undergraduate's life - how else to describe the first moment of being part of Malaysia's oldest, greatest University?
UMCares only joined in the action on the last day, but despite a week's worth of cheering, marching and solidarity-building, the energy from the first years was infectious as they gamely took on a morning of environmental and community work.
First up on the list was a Tree Planting session at the Chancellery building, adjacent to Tasek Varsiti, followed by a video presentation on UMCares and its flagship programmes, finishing off with a Rubbish and Biodiversity Assessment done by the students themselves as they explore the campus.
The Rimba Ilmu nursery rose to the occasion by donating THREE unusual trees. The Ipoh Tree (Antiaris toxicaria) is a magnificent tree that can grow up to 40 metres tall, and if you haven't guessed, is the name behind the capital of Perak.
Above: 9th College planted a Sentul (Sandoricum koetjape) seedling.
Another familiar name would be the Sentul Tree (Sandoricum koetjape), a native fruit tree that is increasingly rare in urban Malaysia. The meranti (Shorea sumatrana) is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, and seven were planted on the 6th of September 2014, together with three Ipohs and three Sentuls.
Each residential college took lead in planting a tree, together with Prof. Dato' Dr Mohd Amin Jalaludin, the Vice-chancellor, Prof. Dr Awg Bulgiba Awg Mahmud, the Deputy Vice-chancellor of Research and Innovation, and Prof Datuk Dr Rohana Yusof, the Deputy Vice-chancellor of Student Affairs, who planted one meranti each.
Above: Dato' VC (left) and 3rd College (right) with their meranti (Shorea sumatrana) seedlings!
The doing-good wasn't just a one-day affair, as each college will now be empowered to care for their tree, from watering and pruning, to speaking out should their tree be threatened by heartless developers.
By taking a bold step that no other Malaysian university has taken before, UM aims to move away from conventional landscaping, which utilises the same few imported species, to celebrate the majestic biodiversity of our native and forest trees.
Special thanks to our leaders for lending a hand in greening our University, UMCares and HEP staff for support, and Dr Sugumaran of Rimba Ilmu for personally surveying the site and selecting the trees for planting.
Happiest when surrounded by books, Vanessa Ting finds herself thriving in the no-less-fascinating world of conservation biology. This mostly involves exponential (learning and topographical) curves, tagging behind ardent, energetic botanists and zoologists. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.