Letter to the editor: There Is a Price Not Worth Paying: Do Not Tear Down OU’s Land

There is no price that can be placed on connection and learning, and for thousands of students and far more alumni, Oakland University is a place for both of these things. A home for some and a learning space for everyone attending, OU is a place of impact. Oakland’s vision statement even promises to “unlock the potential of individuals”, and so it has for sixty-five years. Unfortunately, it seems like this tradition may be disrupted now. The administrators of Oakland University are proposing to tear down the woodland on the southeast corner of Adams and Walton to build a hotel and shopping center, two things that do not support OU’s vision statement, nor support connection and learning.

I am currently earning my second degree from OU which makes me both an alumna and a student. Like it has been for many others, OU has been both a space of research, growth, comfort and home for me. I lived and worked on campus for four years and was on the executive board for Sigma Tau Delta. I graduated with my first bachelor’s degree in 2014 and now seven years later I’ve returned for another because I view OU as enriching. I’ve considered my relationship with OU one built on trust, and this is in part why I returned.

Demolishing this plot of forest to build a hotel and shopping center on OU’s property breaks trust with me and many others. It goes against what the University claims it stands for. Hotels and shopping centers promote traffic, commerce, and strangers. It does not promote learning or connection, and it damages OU’s beautiful wildlife.

Oakland is on stunning property. As someone who taught high school for eight years, I would tell my students applying for college that OU is a beautiful campus: it’s small enough to explore, but grand enough to be breathtaking. A hotel and shopping center disrupts that. Living on campus for four years meant that OU’s property was my oyster. I’d spend nights riding the OU Bike Share bikes with my residents down the hills to the soccer fields. I walked from Hamlin to Meadowbrook Mansion through the forests in the fall. I’d see deer outside my first-floor window. These memories are treasures to me, but what will this development rob from future students, especially when OU promises them so much more? The beauty, ecosystem, and research space will be affected.

Oakland’s Mission Statement says, “As a public doctoral institution, we impact Michigan and the world through education, research, scholarship, and creative activity.” Currently, our land offers these things. Will it after demolition?

While there is no price that can be placed on connection or learning, there is a price placed on attending Oakland University. I have been a loyal stakeholder to this University for over a decade and I want the administrators to know that this proposition is disappointing. This land is important to the ecosystem, to your students’ educations, and to the general beauty of the campus. Administrators claim that building these businesses is to “leverage underutilized land” and while open land at OU may be underutilized from a business standpoint, don’t mistake it as never used or valued. OU students value this land, and this land has supported OU and its students for over half of a century. I’d love to see the 1,443 acres of wooded hills and meadows at OU stay just as they are because for me and so many other people here, these enchanting, interesting, diverse, and important lands are home, not a business center.