BY KRISTEN GOLEMBIEWSKI, Staff Columnist
This piece was inspired by “Campus Engagement: Where Did We Go Wrong?” by Uzoma Okeke, and not just because he called out the radio station for having the lights on and no one home (which, by the way, just because you don’t see anyone doesn’t mean that there isn’t a show going on – you cannot see into the DJ booth from the hallway). Moving on.
I agree with Mr. Okeke that there are problems with student leadership. Pettiness runs rampant on the second floor, as does gossip. There are problems with the administration, too – I’m not denying that. But I think the problem goes much deeper.
There’s an image on the UM-Dearborn Memes Facebook page that reads, “Wayne State gets Lupe Fiasco, we get a yelling atheist.” And that’s just one example of the cool things that happen on other campuses that we never get.
Recently, Kal Penn Ann spoke at Central Michigan University of their Asian Pacific American Heritage month. Our big brother, Ann Arbor, had Obama speak at their 2010 commencement. We got Mary Sue Coleman. And no one as famous as Penn has ever spoken here for any reason.
This year, Ann Arbor’s commencement will feature Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent. We’ll have David Brandon, UM’s Director of Athletics and Chacona W. Johnson, President and CEO of the Detroit Public Schools Foundation. I’m sure Brandon and Johnson are wonderful people and they’re obviously successful.
But trying to compare Gupta to them is like trying to compare apples to oranges – if apples are nationally known and oranges only grow in southeastern Michigan.
Going back to my point about Lupe Fiasco, I actually got his opening act for that show – two dudes who call themselves Passalacqua – to come to UM-D. Nobody showed up. I couldn’t even get people from my own organization to show up.
So I started thinking, why was the turnout so low? We had Passalacqua on the UC Stage, so it wasn’t that people couldn’t find it or that it wasn’t accessible.
As I was asking people why they thought the turnout was low, someone in my org mentioned that most people who hang out in the UC are looking to do homework or talk to their friends – not listen to live music. And I realized that they were right.
That’s another way of how the school isn’t conducive to student life – we don’t even have a proper performance venue. If you think about it, almost every event is held in Kochoff or on the UC Stage – sometimes the BorgWarner Auditorium if it’s a bigger crowd. We don’t have a theater, so even if we could snag Lupe Fiasco or a nationally known actor, where we host him? In Kochoff, where the acoustics are terrible? BorgWarner only seats 220. That’s not even 1/9th of our student body.
I mean, we graduate in a gymnasium. A gymnasium. If that isn’t the best example of how this campus falls short, I don’t know what is.
I often hear people refer to this school as “not a real school” or “a continuation of high school.” I referred to my freshman year as “the 13th grade.” Many people reading this might protest and say, well, look at all of our organizations! And that’s great, but a lot of people have no idea that these organizations exist. And organizations – no matter how hard they try – do not make a college campus when that campus was not designed with student life in mind.
I have no idea what it used to be like around here, but in my time here, all I’ve see is people coming here for class and then leaving. Of course, on the second floor, you have people who stick around a little longer. But if someone doesn’t have to be here, they won’t.
And it’s not just because the food options here are terrible (which they are, by the way – thanks, Aramark!) or because there’s not really anywhere to hang out (the downstairs of the UC gets pretty gross as the day goes on, let’s get real) – although those are contributing factors.
It’s because everyone shares this mentality that this isn’t a real school. That nothing cool happens here, or will ever happen. Sure, SAB gives us Segways and slushies, but that’s not really anything to brag to your non-UM-D friends about.
And so you can critique student leadership and SAO and the UC Front Desk and make valid points about their downfalls. But until you look at the school as a whole, you’re missing the point – this school was not designed to sustain thriving student life.
The views presented, unless otherwise noted, are of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent those of The Michigan Journal Editorial Board, the University of Michigan-Dearborn faculty or administration.