Brandon Sams: Oakland University’s Lorax


Students may forget to stop and appreciate nature during the hustle and bustle of their lives, but not Oakland University sophomore Brandon Sams. He makes certain that nature is heavily featured in his life with his parody Instagram account @OaklandUniversityTrees.

Sams followed in the footsteps of similar OU parody accounts when he created @OaklandUniversityTrees in April 2022. 

“There’s a lot of OU-related accounts. There’s the parking page, one about scooters and obviously the barstool page,” he said. “So I thought, what would be a funny idea? Trees. It was purely started as a joke, but it grew to be something quite bigger than I expected.”

@OaklandUniversityTrees only flourished in popularity when the plans to further develop East Campus were revealed. OU wanted to commercialize the corner bordered by Adams Road and Walton Boulevard, which would have resulted in the bulldozing of much of OU’s woodlands. The plan was scrapped in Jan. 2023.

Sams donned the nickname of OU’s Lorax as he spoke for the trees by speaking out against the East Campus development plan. 

“I heard about the East Campus development plan from both the student congress and other OU-related accounts telling me about it,” Sams said. “It was very important for me to spread the message because of the whole Oakland University Trees thing.”

While Oakland University Student Congress (OUSC) created a petition, Sams protested the East Campus development the only way he knew how — memeing. 

“I think the only way I possibly could do it my way was just meme and relate to the students at OU,” he said. “Student Congress was already on the ball when it came to getting change going, so I didn’t want to shoehorn myself into all the progress they were making.”

In addition to advocating for the trees, Sams has also learned to appreciate the trees through the photos OU students have shared with him via the Instagram account.

“Throughout running the account, I’ve just been getting [direct messages] from people. It’s very interesting and kind of nice to see,” Sams said. “I feel like people are appreciating the trees more because they’re walking around and taking pictures of them in hopes that I post it, for some reason.”

Sams joined forces with OUSC yet again — as well as Swifties of OU when he co-hosted a recent screening of the 2012 film “The Lorax.” He’s happy the event happened, although he likened the experience to a group project where he got away with doing the least amount of work.

Shortly after, Sams made the decision to give up his anonymity on @OaklandUniversityTrees. He hopes now that people know the face behind the account, they will be more willing to “come aboard” and run the account when he steps aside. 

“I want to get more people to run the account,” Sams said. “I feel like OU has a lot of funny people, and a lot of people that enjoy trees, as well. I hope I find the right people to take over.” 

Not only does Sams hope the successor of @OaklandUniversityTrees continues the comical ambiance he has molded on the account — he hopes they promote environmentally-friendly events going on around OU, as well. 

Through running @OaklandUniversityTrees, Sams believes there are little things around campus — such as the trees — that are really nice to appreciate.

“Someone could get really bogged down with the stresses of work and life and just college in general,” Sams said. “I guess, in a weird, deep meaning, take time to appreciate the small things. Walk through the trees when the weather’s not brutally cold.”