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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.

Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Sal Wiertella March 1, 2024

Evolving campus: The Lodge has its limitations

Although The Lodge—NMU’s newest addition to its campus footprint in the form of a collective space intended to facilitate student, staff and faculty chilling and collaborating—officially opened on Jan. 12, I had yet to visit it, until earlier this week.

My impetus for investigating wasn’t just to see what Director of Housing and Residence Life Jeff Korpi meant by “NMU’s ‘family room’” but also because of the promises made by President Fritz Erickson about The Lodge.
He reportedly claimed at the opening ceremony that The Lodge is “not the room for The Woods,” and that “this is The Lodge for the whole campus, and this is open all the time.”

Directed by Erickson’s guarantees, I assumed that The Lodge was a space with an open door policy, accessible any time, any day, by literally, any body.
But, The Lodge is not open all the time, and not just “anyone” can be there.

According to fellow lodgers—who are also residents of The Woods—The Lodge doors close at midnight, and may only be opened via a Woods resident ID. Moreover, regular patrols by residential directors confirm that nobody lingers past an acceptable time for visiting.

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The Lodge doesn’t necessarily close—any resident within The Woods can hang out there indefinitely—but not every NMU student can access it after midnight.

The Lodge tries to solve two major problems, but doesn’t completely succeed in its attempt.

Campus is notorious for not always providing a comfortable spot for students to study, decompress and meet with professors. The Lodge offers a solution to this, but it’s limited by a casual atmosphere—you wouldn’t want to discuss a serious assignment while a game of Jenga is being played.

Additionally, commuter and off-campus students often feel alienated by a sense that campus is only available for use during “regular hours.” The Lodge is open later than Lydia M. Olson Library, but not Jamrich Hall, which typically closes at 2 a.m. In short, don’t assume that you can pull an all-night study session as a commuter at The Lodge.

At the nucleus of The Lodge, however, is an allegory that extends beyond its name to its interior design, function and clientele.

When I first entered The Lodge, an immediate feeling of deja-vu rooted in just having come off the slope came over me, but my trek was actually from Jamrich.

I suspect that the oversized fireplace, cathedral windows and ceilings and decor—reflective of every Pinterest board under the title “ski lodge chic”—had something to do with this. The space oozes coziness, but I couldn’t help but recognize a certain artificiality to The Lodge.

While you get the sense that you’re in a simple environment—there is no TV and it’s relatively quiet—it seems staged, as if you were engaging with a private IKEA display filled with primitive Finnish design, rather than modern Swedish innovation.

Although it may have been intended to be an extension of the environment that surrounds us, The Lodge is really just an oasis within an oasis.

Potted species of artificial flowers and faux grasses scatter the interior, along with varieties of fruits that will remain ripe forever, because they’re plastic.

The nature-themed knick knacks crossover into non life- sized animal figurines of rabbits, birds, deer and bears, and the fireplace, a key feature of The Lodge, burns gas.

Despite this, there were organic elements to The Lodge: health-specific snacks and drinks are offered via vending machine, a well equipped community kitchen is available for cooking and even some forgotten Cheez-It crackers were tucked under the furniture.

What The Lodge ultimately has going for it is a simultaneous independence from and submersion in campus culture—you can get “off campus” in a “make yourself at home” atmosphere without being late for class or having anxiety about relaxing in public.

The Lodge has the potential to be a balance of studiousness and socialization, but currently suffers from a case of identity crisis. Once things are broken-in, other than the hourglass decoration, The Lodge will feel authentically comfortable.

SOUND OFF
What are your thoughts on The Lodge?

Olivia Manganello, junior

biology

“I haven’t been, but it looks nice from the outside. If it was closer to my apartment it would be easier to go to.”

Will Ragnone, freshman

music education

“I pass through it everyday, and it always seems like a comfortable and relaxed environment.”

Eliza Manninen, freshman

undeclared

“I commute to campus so I’m not here often and haven’t been there yet. Eventually I’ll visit it for an event.”

Nate Landreville, senior

fisheries and wildlife
management


“I live off campus, and if I were to go there it’d probably be just to hang out with my friends.”

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