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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Natural beauty makes NMU special

The gentle whirring of the Presque Isle Power Plant, immersed in the heavy silence of still trees and the calm lake on an unusually warm winter morning, was drowned out by the jarring sound of a chainsaw stubbornly chewing through the thick ice in order to launch a boat from the upper harbor marina. With only a short gap of safe weather in the forecast, a few computer technicians, wireless specialists, and a grounds manager, headed for Granite Island for an important mission: to prepare Marquette and Northern Michigan University for a visit by the president of the United States.

They ventured out several miles to the small lonely island that, cast among the black waves that roll along the vast horizon, appeared like a lonely sentinel in the middle of a turbulent sea. Arriving at their destination, the boats were confronted by shear ice cliffs that appeared to encompass the island like a secluded fortress whose frozen ramparts terminate abruptly in the cold, dark depths of Lake Superior.

After using ropes to scale the icy walls, the group proceeded to complete their crucial objective: making sure the generators were serviced and fueled to provide uninterrupted electricity to the island, and also checking the Internet equipment to make sure everything was operating correctly. The wireless repeater used to extend the WiMAX network to Big Bay had to work flawlessly when the president arrived. The beautifully restored historic lighthouse, the realization of a dream belonging to distinguished Northern alumni Scott Holman, has become a crucial link in a network which has catapulted Northern Michigan University to the national spotlight — and has garnered the attention of the most powerful man in the world.

This anecdote captures the essence of Northern. At the border between civilization and the vast wilderness which lies just outside the city’s borders, this university overcomes the isolating effects of a harsh climate and rugged geography by utilizing technology in innovate ways to create a better, more effective learning environment. Whether providing every student with a laptop, or extending the range of high-speed internet access to the entire city, Northern Michigan University is showing the world that being on the margin of our nation, both economically and geographically, does not make us any less in-the-loop. It simply makes us better observers, and now more than ever with students and faculty across the community getting 4G wireless Internet access.

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It is the combination of these elements—the raw, untamed quality of the outdoors, and the cutting-edge, innovative application of new technology—that makes this school special. It is nothing new to acknowledge that there are those who look down on Northern. Some say it is an unknown institution filled with complacent students and mediocre classes, a place to earn a cheap bachelor’s degree and party like an animal. There are cynics who insult promising students for wasting their time or failing to live up to their potential. Some spend their whole college career trying to justify to themselves why they did not take a chance with a larger, more prestigious school, deciding instead to attend a small public university tucked away deep in the woods along the shore of Lake Superior. And then, as you recall the details of its location in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, your mind cannot help but wander along the scenic rocky shoreline dissected by immaculate sand beaches, across the thick tracts of untamed forest, and among the rocky outcrops which obtrude from the idyllic landscape. At once you remember the reason why you chose to come here. You remember why you turned down the high-paying job in the busy city, why you decided against attending a big, expensive university, why you might want to settle down and raise a family here someday.

Northern Michigan University’s WiMAX network is not only connecting students to the world, it is connecting the world to this community. This school is demonstrating to the country that we do not need a huge endowment fund or an elite student body to make headlines. What we may lack in financial resources, we make up for with an undying commitment to improving our community, and in doing so, changing the world. We are bridging the gap, figuratively and literally, between our little oasis of wilderness and the 21st century. And if it takes a chainsaw and ice climbing equipment to connect the dots, you can be sure that we will not shy away from the challenge.

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