On Tuesday, the University of Michigan Bicentennial Office and Center for Campus Involvement hosted an informational workshop at the Michigan League to help student organizations plan for upcoming bicentennial events in 2017.  

In total, the University Bicentennial Office is planning to grant a total of $300,000  to student organizations that host a bicentennial-themed event in 2017.

Bailey Oland, an administrative assistant senior at the University Bicentennial Office, hosted the event along with Nick Smith, interim director for the Center for Campus Involvement.  

Oland highlighted the different events that will take place during the year-long bicentennial celebration. Among other events included a 2017 Spring Festival, which will take place in early April and will feature a tree-planting event, a show hosted by the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and a celebration of the University’s community of cultures that will feature the University’s historic relationship between different ethnic communities on campus.

Several other themed festivals will include a summer festival in June to celebrate staff appreciation and a Detroit festival in September to honor the University’s founding in Detroit and the University’s relationship with the city. The bicentennial is slated to end with a time capsule dedication and a Third Century Expo in the style of a World’s Fair that will focus on the future of the University.

Oland told the crowd of about 30 people that the University will aim to promote its history and commitment to academia through research and to candidly talk about past tensions between campus communities.

“We discovered that many students don’t know our University’s contributions to intellectual life, and that people don’t know our history that well because we don’t do a good enough job of promoting ourselves.” Oland said. “For our exploration into past tensions, we understand that it can be a difficult theme to talk about, but we are really trying to push that. It is important that the bicentennial isn’t just a year-long celebration and a party all the time. But we want to show that we have made mistakes in the past, and have learned and grown from them.”

Student organizations were advised to tailor their bicentennial events to the six themes of the celebration: serving the people, pursuing ideas, creating and inventing, teaching powerfully, challenging society and forever hailing.

In discussing each them, Oland emphasized the importance of serving the people, which he said, aims to commemorate both the University’s history of public outreach, as well as the community involvement of student organizations.

The themes of pursuing ideas and creating and inventing themes are a celebration of the creation of new ideas through research and innovation at the University, Oland added, saying  bicentennial activities by student organizations can focus on the role of innovative thinking and ingenuity at the University.

Among the other themes, Oland said challenging society and powerfully teaching aims to showcase how different areas of the University have shirked conventional thinking to promote new ideas. He characterized the final theme of the bicentennial, forever hailing, as a celebration of school spirit, which involves the University’s athletic departments and popular clubs.

Student organizations raised multiple potential issues they wanted to work on during a Q&A session after the event, including integrating North Campus into the University bicentennial, improving social media outreach and engaging the Ann Arbor community were the focus of a Q&A session.

Engineering junior Eve Gendron, a bicentennial representative from the College of Engineering Student Government, said she thought bringing Engineering-related events to Central Campus will be a focus for her organization.

“The World-Fair style event in the fall of 2017 will be a great opportunity to bring student project teams to showcase their designs,” Gendron said. “Events like that will be important because it will allow students from all over campus to see what happens on all corners of campus, and that’s really what the bicentennial celebration is all about.”


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