Letter to the editor: Save Our Campus

For months, Oakland University (OU) has diverted funds away from education and towards the development of a plan to commercialize our campus. The proposed East Campus Development (ECD) project seemingly intends to bulldoze our public lands, lease campus to private entities, and oversee the erection of an upper-upscale “boutique hotel.” Those organizing the plan want the community to think that the details of the project are still developing and subject to amendment, but the truth is, no matter what kind of development might finally be decided, the project will increase campus traffic, reduce campus sustainability, and diminish campus safety.

ECD is not for the OU community, it is for ultra rich visitors, and it must be stopped. We encourage everyone to make their voice heard by signing our petition, linked here. By signing today, you are urging Oakland University to cancel East Campus Development.


As a commuter campus notorious for traffic and sparse parking, ECD will only exacerbate the problem. The project is guaranteed to increase traffic on and around campus, increasing the time it takes to commute to and park at OU.  Because OU does not provide any public transportation to mitigate traffic problems for its one lane campus, road congestion will get substantially worse. Coincidentally, development is planned to occur next to South Adams Road, another area that OU has been in talks with others about expanding. While that may sound enticing, this could take 5-10 years and would force OU to give up even more land. It is irresponsible to take on such a damaging project without preparing any timely solutions to the burdens the ECD will cause the community. 


The architects of this plan are obsessed with the public appearance of sustainability; however, no matter how this project is framed or pitched, there is no development plan for luxury and excess that will be sustainable. In fact, any proposed development on East Campus will hurt sustainability efforts that the university has pledged to uphold. Sustainability is much more complex than OU’s promises to “protect the trees” because they are an important “asset.” The construction process itself will mean excavating, digging, clearing, and paving over the green spaces that Oakland University is known for. Moreover, the completion of this project will create a domino effect that will destroy complex ecosystems. As OU profusely professes their illusions of sustainability, their students, faculty, and staff groups made up of experts in the field are united in reminding the university this project is NOT sustainable. Simply put, if OU cares about sustainability, they will reject this project. 


In a year when campus has felt considerably less safe, we should not be giving up jurisdiction of our land to private developers. ECD will remove OU’s authority over the East Campus and the OUPD will be replaced with the Rochester Hills Police which the university has no control over. The newly developed areas will invite strangers with no OU affiliation to campus. Additionally, campus policies on smoking and weapons that apply to the OU community will likely not apply to people at the corner. OU wants the community to believe everything is under control, but once they lease the land away, they will have little oversight. If a business moves in that does not align with OU’s values, there will be little the university can do to stop it. It is reckless to compromise campus safety for potential profit that is far from guaranteed. Maintaining a safe and welcoming campus environment will be difficult if OU gives up its control of the campus.


We understand that the OU Board of Trustees is looking for a way to mitigate budget shortfalls, but the solutions must be rooted in OU’s mission and values. ECD is out of touch with the needs of students and the entire OU community. The plan has not been endorsed by any majority of the OU community, and if new projects do not primarily serve students, faculty, or staff, they have no place on our campus. 

Furthermore, the ECD is wasting staff time and resources on crafting a playground for the rich when they could be focusing on transforming OU into a university of choice. Over the course of the last year, students have asked for affordable course materials, a living wage, and sustainable policies and projects, and in response, OU has offered luxury buildings and sustainable platitudes, not actions. OU must invest in community initiatives that will improve campus, NOT further corporatize and   commercialize a non-profit university.

Sign this petition to say NO to the East Campus Development plan.


Oakland University Student Congress (OUSC)