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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Caden Sierra
Caden Sierra
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Hey. My name is Caden and I'm from the Chicagoland area.  I'm currently going into my 3rd year at NMU.  I'm a multimedia production major with a double minor in journalism and criminal justice. For as...

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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.

Pizza Cat Vol. 10
Pizza Cat Vol. 10
Deirdre Northrup-RiestererApril 23, 2024

Greening Northern: An ecological campus

Perusing the Native Plants Area adjacent to New Science, a vision of what campus used to be presents itself.Towering pines, wildflowers, a different world, nostalgic of a time none of us knew. Facing north, grass. And south, cement.

Michael Williams
Michael Williams

This sliver of ecological health momentarily transports us to a time immemorial, fleeting as that moment may be.What would campus look like if the Native Plants Area was its model? Can we imagine such a radical scenery change? An NMU where campus life would be backdropped by a glimpse of local environmental origins.

Imagine pine cover between roads and buildings. Pathways carved between black-eyed susan and bee balm wildflowers stretching from Gries Hall to New Science.Overhangs of white and red pines growing before the University Center.

Or, if grasses are our thing, native species like big bluestem or Canada wild-rye providing habitat to birds and insects.Maybe it only sounds radical.

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Marquette is a “Tree City, USA.” Concrete as this jungle may be, patches of nature left to its own devices abound. Ecological health is sought and cherished in this community.Why then must campus remain a cowless grass patch? The new Jamrich would be beautiful if I saw less of it (though the brown metal paneling facing Hedgcock almost resembles an oak tree).

Same goes to the other buildings. I’d love to identify my next classroom destination by vines crawling the building’s exterior.Relishing in the ecological appreciation already here would mean remedying the ecological turmoil that has characterized the last two centuries.

Other schools have done it.

Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. has state-of-the-art facilities immersed in healthy ecosystems.They have incorporated ecological health into their campus ethics, recognizing that universities are spaces for imagining progressive ethic shifts.Marquette itself is equally progressive. Just count the Priuses. Better yet, count the bikers.

Citizens understand their environmental impacts and attempt to reduce them.NMU provides recycle bins, but does little to remediate the wreckage done by planting grass.Students (myself included) move here for the scenery, for the break from urbanity out 550. Want to sell the college? Bring 550 to campus.

Incorporating ecological precepts into campus life would be a stunning project. It would attract more students seeking a break from concrete.Such a move would set NMU apart from other state universities.

Much as the Native Plants Area already does, the entire campus could become class curriculum, cutting harsh fluorescence from our eyes and forcing our bodies to move outside.NMU’s Master Plan has continuing construction on its horizons.

Updated facilities are important. Inter-collegiate competition necessitates access to innovative technologies.But ravaging ecosystems is like playing Jenga: one wrong move and the structure (the whole ecosystem) tumbles.

Sensical campus policy would encourage administration to heed ecological realities and preserve environmental health.Why not let students see, feel, smell what this place used to be?Ecological health is declining. NMU has the opportunity to play its part in righting wrongs.Various NMU departments research declining species and the invading species replacing them. How about make campus a space where decline can be mitigated?

The benefits would be remarkable and myriad.Beyond new habitat (or rather, returned habitat), campus would improve aesthetically.Students would be introduced to species they have rarely, if ever, experienced. Psychological health would improve.

Administration needs to invest in a continually greener campus and place themselves in a class of administrations bridging policies and ecological responsibilitiesWhatever the reasons, be it public relations or environmental altruism, the move would benefit the NMU and Marquette communities largely.Returning to the Native Plants Area, this change isn’t so radical. A new normal isn’t so far.

A healthy environment is possible.




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