There have been both rumors and facts about student housing coming to campus. It was announced back in early April by the Michigan Journal that the Dearborn City Planning Commission approved the renovation of two buildings for the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
The two buildings in question are located directly across the street from the campus on Evergreen road. They are owned by Ford Land, and are former Henry Ford health system offices and clinics, with their official addresses as 760 and 780 Town Center Drive. The buildings are accessible by the parking lot of the Fairlane Town Center.
Both are two stories high, but are expected to be built to four stories. Bowers & Associates, the company contracted for the renovations to begin in June, have yet to start any work on the buildings. Scott Bowers, President of Bowers & Associates plans on making the buildings four stories, with a walkway across Evergreen as well as some demolition to create the buildings wanted by the University.
That doesn’t mean much until it all happens, but let’s say it does and they are ready to go by August of 2013 (the expected completion date if construction started in June). How will this affect the campus athletic-wise?
Jeremy Klotz, a sophomore forward for the Wolves hockey team, believes that the athletics department will grow because of campus housing. “It would make recruiting for athletics easier because students who live out of driving distance would be able to stay on campus,” said Klotz.
The attendance has been poor too. Except for the players families and really close friends, along with a couple of curious students, many don’t know that games are going on, and much of the games are empty of student support. Being a commuter campus, it’s tough to get students to games with many going home after class and not involved with anything outside of class.
Klotz also believes more students would attend as dorm rooms would fill up quickly. Students need something to do at 7:00pm at night. “On a Friday night, you have nothing to do therefore you stop by the ice rink and check out a game on your way back to your dorm room,” Klotz said.
Danielle Cowart, a junior on the Women’s Basketball team also sees the importance of campus housing.
“They (the students) will have something to attend rather than sitting in their dorm room or wherever else they’re living,” says Cowart. The recruitment would be a huge addition to all teams as well. It’s a good assumption that recruits are lost because of no housing. “Yes we could get people from farther away that maybe would be a great asset to our team and help us reach our goals,” says Cowart, speaking of more efficient recruiting.
It’s also obvious the Fieldhouse on the south end of campus, which was only phase one of three phases (the other two never came to fruition, we don’t know why), isn’t enough for the athletes on campus. Would campus housing increase more funding for athletics? We don’t have the answer to that question, yet. But we can speculate on what it could do for athletics.
Both Klotz and Cowart believe that more space is needed for athletics on campus. Our campus has no softball field, no soccer field, no track, no course for cross country, just an ice rink and a basketball/volleyball court.
Starting off, the University of Michigan-Dearborn Wolves have six varsity sports. Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Men’s and Women’s Cross Country, Ice Hockey, Men’s Soccer, Softball and Volleyball. The soccer team was just upgraded to varsity no more than a year ago.
It’s always tough each year for the teams to bring in new recruits because of no campus housing. Some of the teams have been historically bad, with both basketball teams showing that of late. Last year the Men’s team finished 3-26 while the Women’s team finished 4-24. That’s not to say that will continue this year, with both teams under new head coaches, both in their second year. Sheri Washington leads the Women’s team, while John Mackson leads the Men’s team.
The Men’s hockey team also hasn’t been to Nationals in over four years. They are in the second year of Bobby Clouston, after Dave Debol resigned two summers ago. The softball team was relatively pretty good up until 2010, and things started to go downhill. They are back on the rise now under Sarah Rotta, and hope to be more competitive this year. Mike Gibson, the head coach of the Volleyball team has been around since it’s inception. They have had some up and down years as well.
The cross country teams don’t compete on campus, but would certainly benefit from a home course on campus, if there was more room for one. It’s obvious the teams are struggling to compete in their respective leagues, and with possible campus housing coming soon, this could benefit everything and everyone in athletics.
What will help is that the proposed buildings for housing would include a volleyball court. One of the buildings would be housing, while the other, a student center. An exercise facility, meeting rooms, a theatre and 525 beds would all encompass the two buildings.
Campus housing would greatly improve athletics. Attendance, recruiting, and facilities would all improve under the proposed new housing. Most importantly, the students would benefit from the campus housing. If you would like more information on campus athletics, visit Wolf Pack on the second floor of the University Center (2130), or visit http://www.gowolves.net.
To read the original article that appeared in the second issue of The Michigan Journal, on Tuesday, September 18, 2012, go to www.michiganjournal.org