Most students have only four years to experience the University and the Ann Arbor community. And although academics are extremely important, students — including myself — need to take a step out of the library and seize all of the opportunities and attractions offered in Ann Arbor. This town provides so many cultural, artistic, and dining resources that many students fail to take full advantage of. But in return for student patronage, the city of Ann Arbor needs to put more of an effort into campus promotion of featured city events.
It is extremely difficult for students to experience attractions and events if there are limited or even no advisements displayed to students on campus. Though students need to start seizing upon the countless opportunities offered by Ann Arbor, the city must work at promoting events more within the campus community.
Take, for instance, Ann Arbor Restaurant Week, an event that included discounted lunch and dinner meals at 28 participating local restaurants. The event was held Jan. 17 through Jan. 22. One would think a significant event like this would be featured in countless advertisements in campus buildings and on the streets enclosing the University area.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The first time I heard about the event was in a Daily article that ran on Jan. 25, after it was already over (Second Ann Arbor Restaurant Week stimulates local economy, 01/25/10). The event came and went before I had the opportunity to make it down to Main St. With discounted specials at reasonable prices, many students would have loved to take advantage of the offer. But by failing to properly advertise around campus, restaurants downtown lost the business of potential student customers. It’s a shame that students and the participating restaurants couldn’t both benefit.
Similarly, the Michigan Theater failed to sufficiently promote on campus the recent viewing of a Sundance film. The program, entitled Sundance USA, allowed select theaters around the country to view a film typically only available during the Sundance Film Festival. Though the Michigan Theater did do a fair share of advertisement around and within the city, the advertisements were not prominently displayed throughout campus. For instance, the theater rented a billboard on I-94. But I am one of the unlucky students who doesn’t have a car and thus am not traveling down the highway too frequently. This failure in advertising within University buildings and along campus streets limited student involvement in the event.
The disconnect between the University community and the city businesses needs to change. Students could provide local businesses with a significant amount of patronage if they were informed of special events that would appeal to them, like Restaurant Week and the Sundance film at the Michigan Theater. There are 40,000 students on campus that local businesses haven’t been targeting — but they should be. Students are a large population that the city hasn’t been focusing on that could potentially spend a lot of money at local businesses. Though Ann Arbor hasn’t been as severly affected by the recession, it could still benefit from increased student patronage.
And students would benefit from increased attendance to local events, too. I came to the University for more than just its academic and athletics — I came for the city of Ann Arbor as well. Ann Arbor is viewed nationwide as one of the best college towns. But I spend most of my time in University buildings and facilities. And despite the occasional meal on State St., I rarely venture out of my home at dinnertime, especially during these harsh Michigan winters. With only a year and a half left here, I hope that the city will increase advertisements on campus, so that I will be able to fully take advantage of all that is offered in Ann Arbor.
Laura Veith is a senior editorial page editor.