While many think the University’s North Campus remains isolated from the bustling action of Central Campus, programs are being implemented to continue to enhance the area’s reputation and promote positive aspects of North Campus life.
In an attempt to foster stronger unity between campuses and encourage increased student involvement on North Campus, University officials and student leaders developed the GoNorth! Initiative last year. The program plans two major events each semester to garner student interest and strengthen appreciation for North Campus. It is currently developing a Winter Blast festival, among other future events.
Elizabeth Zollweg, North Campus project manager, said the primary goal of every event is to increase student awareness about opportunities and events on North Campus and bring more people to the area.
“We are doing these ‘bam-wow’ events (that are) kind of new (and) exciting (that have) never been done on Michigan’s campus,” Zollweg said. “Some are … off the wall but things that are destination value that are bringing a lot of students and the community to North Campus.”
As part of the Winter Blast festival — slated to take place on Feb. 17 and 18 outside of Pierpont Commons — the GoNorth! Initiative will include an ice rink for students. Zollweg said she expects a larger crowd for this event because the installation and preparation for an ice rink on North Campus is something that hasn’t been done before.
“Our programming team (has) worked very diligently and very collaboratively with a lot of different units to make it happen,” Zollweg said. “We are expecting about 1,000 people over the two days.”
Along with UMix at Pierpont Commons from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on that Friday, Winter Blast will host a DJ, hold ice-sculpting contests and prize giveaways, in addition to the ice rink that will be open for free skating until 10 p.m. each day.
Last semester’s events included hot air balloon rides, a Haunted Bell Tower Halloween event and football tailgates. With a marketing team, student input and collaboration with the North Campus Affairs Commission, a commission within CSG that works to increase communication between student groups on North Campus, Go North! plans to provide students with even more events this semester.
Along with smaller scale projects, Go North! plans to host a March Madness event and Springfest — a collaborative event with the University of Michigan Engineering Council at the North Campus Administrative Complex — at the end of the semester.
Zollweg said the initiative brings new events to students while gathering ideas from around the University to create a stronger sense of community.
“The essence of Go North! is not that we are always creating our own events,” Zollweg said. “We are really trying to expand our umbrella to incorporate the academic side and to cross-promote events and ideas.”
Zollweg said Go North! also helps students experience a different side of North Campus and learn about what it has to offer academically, socially and creatively.
“There are a lot of students (at) Michigan (who) have never been up there … We want to bridge that gap in saying ‘Here is the Michigan experience, and it includes North Campus because there is a lot of really great things happening,’” Zollweg said. “We are trying to start our own traditions up on North Campus and (give it) a destination value, not just the lost abyss.”
LSA freshman Alex Kokaly said he believes in the potential of the upcoming Go North! events, but wonders if Central Campus residents like himself will take the journey to North Campus.
“I think the main challenge is getting the people who live on Central to make the trek up to North Campus, but my friends and I are always willing to do something fun,” Kokaly said.
Engineering freshman Isaiah Murray, who lives in the Baits I Residence Hall, said he thinks the new events from Go North! may help alter negative feelings toward North Campus.
“I think that people get the misconception that because North Campus is … outside of (Central Campus) that there’s nothing to do up here,” Murray said. “Something like Winter Blast could possibly change that outlook a little bit.”