If a tree falls and no one is there to hear it, does anyone care?

Apparently Yalies care — as long as that tree is in the center of Cross Campus.

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Frequent exclamations of “Oh My God!” could be overheard Sunday evening as Elis, braving piercing winds in their walk across Cross Campus, noticed a large fallen tree between William L. Harkness Hall and Calhoun College. The tree had fallen onto the grass, leaving all paths unobstructed.

The tree was surrounded by mulch, and a supporting beam near its base had snapped in half. A nearby security officer said the tree had been planted recently, as its roots showed no signs of rotting.

Around the time of the incident, winds swept through New Haven at speeds of 15 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 27 miles per hour, according to the Web site of the Weather Channel.

The tree fell some time between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., according to interviews with passers-by.

Still, students interviewed in the Bass Library almost directly underneath the collapsed tree did not hear it fall or feel any tremors.

“I didn’t hear anything — not a thing — and I’ve been here since four,” said Monique Harris, a staff member at the Thain Family Cafe in Bass.

Many students above ground braved the 27-degree weather to observe the gaping hole left by the tree.

A security officer reported the fallen tree at 7:20 p.m., and within 10 minutes, three officers had gathered at the scene. The officers phoned the Department of Grounds Maintenance, which was expected to clear the tree the next day, an officer said.

No officials from Maintenance could be reached for comment Sunday night.

Some students said the tree’s absence would give Cross Campus a roomier feel.

“I like Cross Campus to be open,” Clayton Crooks ’09 said. “Yale is famous for its nice open spaces. … It’s better for football.”

The security guard who first noticed the tree remarked that the most important news was that nobody got hurt.