Northern Michigan University is one of the most beautiful campuses in Michigan. Situated next to Lake Superior, minutes away from outdoor recreation and seclusion, the university has the unique opportunity to benefit from the surrounding environment.
When it comes right down to it, NMU does little to take advantage of the unique climate and geography to advertise beyond using the motto, “Northern Naturally.”
Michigan Tech is another Upper Peninsula university whose environment-centered model has proven successful. MTU’s annual “Winter Carnival” draws in a large crowd every year.
NMU’s WinterFest is lacking in comparison. The snow sculpture competition is usually emphasized in the dorms, but the majority of NMU students are commuters. Aside from listing the U.P. 200 as an NMU WinterFest event, there is little done to use the surrounding environment during WinterFest.
NMU’s Roadmap to 2015 emphasizes “the attractiveness of the NMU campus in the beautiful natural environment of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan,” and describes it as a “unique asset that should play a prominent role in our portfolio of academic programs, our research agenda and the efficiency with which the campus operates.”
More can be done to unify the campus environment and culture. During WinterFest this February, NMU should start to explore new ways to tie in the winter weather with the festival’s events.
Instead of so many card and board game tournaments, there could be an increase in outdoor events beyond broomball and human dogsled races.
NMU could encourage student organizations to start a new tradition: the annual NMU Outhouse Races.
Taking an existing event from the U.P. culture and making it uniquely Northern’s would be a fun way to advertise student organizations while increasing human connection within the student body.
Most students and faculty came to NMU because of its beautiful location. It is a shame that more is not done to include the environment in campus activities that celebrate Wildcat pride.
Reintroduce the Wildcat back into nature. Help Northern become more natural during WinterFest this February.