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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

NMU builds drive-in theatre for a safer movie-going experience

Peter Smedley/NW

Restrictions put in place by COVID-19 have severely limited the campus experience for incoming students. Many events, opportunities and clubs have either switched to an online format or have been canceled altogether to adhere to executive and university protocol. Yet these changes did not discourage the determined people who contributed to making the Shoreline Drive-in Theatre a reality.

For many, the Shoreline Theatre immediately became a project of passion. Bill Digneit, head of the Department of Theatre and Dance, saw the need for students to have an on-campus opportunity while remaining safe.

“It started as an idea on how to create a safe social distancing venue for students to get involved in. Being safe is number one but we want students to feel connected to the university,” Digneit said. “We were looking for different ideas, things we could do outside. Creating live content takes some time, but with the film, it takes less people. We started talking about that and said it should be fun. We talked with Campus Cinema and the Center for Student Enrichment and said let’s collaborate.”

Digneit has played a pivotal role in making the Shoreline Theatre a reality. His main concern throughout the project has been the students’ safety and entertainment.

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“There are three different seating options. We ask that students only come with their roommates, not mixed groups of friends,” Digneit said. “It’s exciting to see our friends but unfortunately in these times, we want to be responsible. People aren’t allowed to get up and go to where someone else is sitting and chat. The main focus is for students to have opportunities.”

Campus Cinema, a student-organized club that previously played movies in Jamrich, has also been hard at work running the Shoreline Theatre. Sarah Kendall, senior business management major and treasurer of Campus Cinema, shared how the club has contributed.

“We’re the ones who pick the movies, we’re paying for the movies, we’re helping with the cost for audio and visuals, getting the theatre put up, and we’re working the events,” Kendall said.

Movies are put on by Campus Cinema every Saturday and Sunday, and they plan to run until the end of September. The Shoreline Theatre is limited to a capacity of 250, and they will continue to show movies in Jamrich X 1100 throughout the semester. 

“We did our welcome weekend film this past weekend that we always do outside. I think it’s a great idea for students to get out on campus, it’s located at the dome which isn’t too far, but it is a walk. It allows students to get more situated with campus,” Kendall said.

The club is encouraging students to join and get involved, students can learn more about Campus Cinema at

The Center for Student Enrichment has also been a significant influence in the Shoreline Theatre. Julia Santa Maria, assistant director, pointed out some finer details of the theatre.

“Much thought was put into the creation of the venue to ensure that proper social distancing can be followed. Tickets for movie showings are free and have contactless check-in,” Santa Maria said. “Movie showings also feature a drive-in option which can hold up to 20 cars. Another thing to note is, although the first events held at the theatre have been movies, this venue can also be used for other types of events.”

Maria also iterated on the importance of everyone coming together.

“Campus Cinema really embraced this venue option because they want students and community members to feel safe while still being able to enjoy the programming that the organization hosts,” Santa Maria said. “Bill Digneit, as well as President Erickson, have been huge driving forces to get the idea of the Shoreline Theatre off the ground. The Center for Student Enrichment was very excited to be a part of something that would positively impact the ability of our students to enjoy programming in the fall. Many student organizations like Campus Cinema, NoMAD, NAE, and many more are now able to have the possibility of planning an event for their peers to enjoy.”

The Shoreline Drive-in Theatre is currently only available to students. Tickets can be claimed at It is located by the Superior Dome and soccer fields.

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