We come to this University with a wide variety of interests and motives. Some of us are probably just here to get a good job and start making money, but the University has its own agenda: It wants to make us into intelligent and active members of society. This entails more than spending the week paying lip service to a long list of graduation requirements and spending the weekends seeking bliss and alcohol poisoning. The University wants us to experience the world in new ways and to seek such experiences out.
The University employs many subtle methods toward this end. The unsuspecting may not notice the slew of art galleries, the world-famous concert hall or the open-air discussion forums sprinkled across Central Campus, but they are there. A big reason why we pay so much in tuition is to have the opportunity to be swayed by these unique venues for personal growth; it’s what makes this university better than others. But our museums and performance spaces do not simply exist to make the University an acclaimed institution; they are there for us to engage in.
We are all essentially aware of the width and breadth of Central Campus. And at least 110,000 people also have a passing familiarity with South Campus and the opportunities it presents. But then there is North Campus, a bus ride and a world away from Central, overlooking Ann Arbor like a hawk. Or a socially uncertain misfit outside of a party.
Though more and more freshmen are being housed on North Campus, it largely remains a mystery. Most are still unaware that it exists for any reason other than to house the Bursley cafeteria. The dubious blessing of the University’s largest dining facility aside, there are many reasons to become familiar with this significant section of the University.
North Campus is a different world, but diverse opportunities to experience the world abound, just like on Central Campus: They just happen to be more subtle on North. North Campus requires a level of dedication to be explored that is especially hard to come by during the early-November, post-midterm coma, but the rewards are worth it.
For starters, it’s home to the University’s world-class School of Music, tucked quietly behind a row of trees and a pond struggling to resemble a grand piano. Every year more than 400 recitals and performances are given – often by world-renowned faculty members – 99 percent of them free of charge. Classical, jazz, world music and electronic media performances occur regularly, all conveniently listed on the school’s website, www.music.umich.edu.
Across the road is Pierpont Commons and the Duderstadt Center, which house gallery space, the University’s only 24-hour library and an incredible digital performance studio, among many other things. Exhibits and shows go on daily, and the outdoor commons area offers all the benefits of the Diag without the nuisance of being attacked by people with flyers.
The entire engineering campus is spackled with a variety of large sculptures, 16 in total, including the 1,800 square foot Wave Field designed by Maya Lin. There is a bell tower constructed with no right angles or symmetry. There is a circle you can stand in and hear your own echo. Try not to be a little curious.
As University students, we are offered many opportunities to develop and engage our curiosities both in and out of class. It is up to us to make the most of them.
While somewhat less convenient, the opportunities provided by North Campus offer a different perspective on the University and are all waiting to be taken advantage of. New experiences are just the thing to bring many of us out of the pre-winter blues. If the usual routine just isn’t doing it for you, a trip up North Campus may be the solution.
-Bryan Kolk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.