OU community reacts to suspended East Campus development plans


Photo courtesy of Oakland.edu

The corner of campus bordering Walton and Adams.

East Campus Development has been a hot topic on campus for the past several months. On Monday, Jan. 9, an email was released with a statement from the Board of Trustees (BOT) on the project’s suspension

From the moment this project was announced, the BOT has been swarmed with backlash from many OU students and staff. Many of the university’s organizations have collectively made an effort to urge the BOT to stop the project, raising concerns about sustainability and safety. 

Between statements and petitions, many campus organizations have been very outspoken about the controversial development project. In addition, several students wrote letters to the editor about their concerns. 

“The cancellation came by suddenly and surprisingly, but I was overjoyed when I found out it was canceled,” Maris Ferguson, who wrote a letter to the editor in November about the project, said. “It gave me so much hope for the future of OU and our planet. It was a rewarding experience knowing that our voices have power, and we made true impactful change at this magnitude.”

Professor Alan Epstein, a member of The Campus Alliance for Sustainability and the Environment (CASE-OU), commended the efforts of the OU community regarding the project, calling the cancellation announcement from the BOT, “a source of joy and a relief.”

It was also understood to be the product of a remarkable collaboration in which students played a pivotal role, demonstrating informed, creative engagement and an impassioned defense of their university,” Epstein said. “In as much as the Board’s statement specified a suspension of ‘formal consideration of development options’ at this time, CASE, students and the university community understand that additional projects may be proposed in the future. Should this transpire, CASE is hopeful that they will be supportable.”

Oakland University Student Congress (OUSC)’s Director of Sustainability Chiara Nava expressed similar relief for the suspension of development plans.

“It was great to see how many people came together to voice their opinion against the project,” Nava said. “I’m glad that faculty and the students were given the chance to work together to voice their disapproval.”

In a statement released following Monday’s BOT announcement, OUSC — who introduced a petition against East Campus development plans last October — commended the unified efforts of those opposed to the development plans who banded together over the past several months.

“We are overjoyed to see that the OU administration eventually listened to the community and did the right thing,” OUSC’s statement said. “The cancellation of this project stands as a testament to the power of a community when we stand united.” 

“I think we were all just thrilled. I think we were grateful that the project was suspended and the BOT listened to the voices of the community,” Amy Pollard, executive director of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), said. “We were a little surprised, but very happily surprised. It was really nice to see the OU community sort of, in mass, come together to reject the premise behind why we needed this East Campus Development.”