It’s no secret students living on Central Campus often avoid venturing to North Campus, except when necessary. In a new effort to alter that mindset, University officials are using a variety of programs to connect students to North Campus.
Extended bus service hours, the addition of LSA classes in North Campus buildings and the formation of a self-dubbed North Campus “vibrancy” committee — which brainstorms how to build a communal infrastructure for North Campus — are a few of the new ways the University is trying to attract students to the campus.
Though LSA classes like math and German have been held on North Campus for more than a decade, this is the first year an expansive course list has been offered.
Three sections of English 125, two sections of Math 115, one section of Math 454 and two discussion sections of Psychology 111 are held on North Campus this semester.
In determining which classes to offer, LSA Associate Dean James Penner-Hahn said LSA worked closely with the Registrar’s Office to select large classes taken mainly by freshmen. The classes are held early in the morning or late in the evening when North Campus residents are likely to be close to home.
“We wanted to try and make it as convenient as possible for students,” Penner-Hahn said in an interview.
He added that the new North Campus courses are available on a trial basis. If student surveys report negative reactions, the classes will be discontinued.
“If it were to turn out that the only people taking these classes were there unwillingly, and that they would have preferred to have been on Central, then that would affect whether or not we continue this,” he said.
LSA freshman Ethan Cohen, a resident of Baits House I, said none of his LSA classes are on North Campus this semester, and he would be interested in having classes closer to his residence hall.
“Commuting is a challenge for me because I have to calculate for bus time,” he said. “I get less sleep, and if I have large gaps in my schedule I really can’t go back to my room.”
The University is attempting to ease the commute for Cohen and other students by extending bus service for the Northwood Express and Diag-to-Diag Express.
The Northwood Express now begins service at 7:20 a.m. and the Diag-to-Diag Express bus has been extended until 10 p.m. in order to reduce crowding on the Bursley-Baits bus.
This year, 300 more students than last year enrolled in the University. Because the majority of these students were placed on North Campus, the North Campus “vibrancy” committee is attempting to familiarize students with the campus.
The committee, which meets bi-weekly, is comprised of representatives from University Housing, Recreational Sports, University Unions, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, the School of Music, Theatre & Dance and the Duderstadt Center.
Michael Swanigan, vibrancy committee chair and Pierpont Commons director, said the committee’s mission is to improve North Campus’s social, cultural and academic atmosphere.
“Basically we want to make North Campus the place to be,” he said.
The committee has extended the hours of Pierpont Commons until 2 a.m. and kept food venues open an additional hour. The committee has also improved the North Campus website, which committee members believe will be instrumental for informing students about North Campus events. The website, developed several years ago, was temporarily discontinued due to a lack of support but was revitalized this year.
David Siegle, co-chair of the vibrancy committee and the facility manager of the North Campus Recreation Building, said organizers work to overcome obstacles like the lack of traffic flow.
“On Central Campus students are likely to walk through the Diag even if they don’t have class, and that’s not as likely on North,” he said.
To combat the challenges of a sparse population, the committee strives to create events on North Campus that have wide appeal.
Nicholas Smith, assistant director of University Unions Art Programs and a vibrancy committee member, said a North Campus tailgate held during the Notre Dame football game received an encouraging response.
“We had about 500 students show up, and we went through two food buffets,” Smith said. “The auditorium was full, and we had two overflow room spaces that were filled.”
In the next month, North Campus residents can expect to see similar efforts by the committee through events like UMix, survival bingo and nights with food and music sponsored by the University.
While these events will take place solely on North Campus, Smith said they are organized to entice the entire student population to come to North Campus.
“It’s about what’s going to be that North Campus draw for students,” he said. “Not only those students who live on North Campus, but when you live on Central Campus, what’s going to make you want to go to North.”