Western Michigan University has changed quite a bit since the majority of students have last been on campus. Here’s what has changed since most classes moved online in March 2020. 

Howard Strip Mall

Construction of Howard Strip Mall

At the edge of campus on West Michigan and Howard St., the once popular strip mall was demolished. The goal was to give the campus more free space. The landscape team plans to have grass grown in the spot instead. The Howard Strip Mall was home to the original Two Fellas location and Campus Wok.

“We would like to have it as a green space for one of our entries,” said Peter Strazads, Associate Vice President of Facilities Management. 

The Whale

Past Orientation Leader sheds light on the experience

Caitlin Wiley posing on the whale 

‘The Whale’ statue has been officially removed from Main Campus. It was removed in Fall 2020 due to extensive and irreparable deterioration. The statue was formerly located outside the Haenicke Global Institute and will not be replaced.

Community members once recalled the legend of The Whale, which required any student who stepped on the Western seal outside Waldo Library to carry water from the fountain and pour it down the whale’s blowhole or risk failing their finals.

The sculpture was installed in 2010 as part of the WMU Sculpture Tour presented by the Gwen Frostic School of Art, only intended to be displayed for two years. The piece was created by Shay Church, a WMU grad and adjunct art instructor from 2007 to 2009. 

Air Quality

WMU has updated air filtration systems inside multiple buildings on campus. The new devices are intended to diminish the airborne spread of COVID-19.

The updated system will double the amount of outside air brought into buildings and ventilation will begin two hours before occupants are expected. Newer buildings have updated air filtration systems however, the buildings that are being upgraded include: WMU’s Physical Plant, the University Computing Center, Sindecuse Health Center, Dalton Center, and Seibert Administration Building.

Additional air handling adjustments will contribute to reduced spread of COVID-19.

“As humidifying the indoor environment has a positive effect on the human immune system's performance and also reduces the amount of time airborne pathogens remain suspended, maintaining relative humidity between 40% and 60% reduces the potential for transmission,” Davis said. 

Parking Passes

Students on campus discuss their need for more on-campus parking

Parking Services

Students can now access and purchase parking passes virtually. In the past, students were administered a sticker for their cars to signify their permission to park in certain on campus lots.

Starting Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021 students will be required to obtain a parking permit pass after a brief grace period for student parking during move-in. With a virtual parking pass, your license plate will act as the permit. 

Parking passes are being offered virtually in order to achieve three things: increased convenience, as it is available any time for any car; greater flexibility as family, rental and loaner cars can purchase a virtual parking pass for the time they need; and improved sustainability, as students no longer need to purchase a replacement if it is lost. 

There will not be any increased parking for students as WMU has not created or planned to create additional spaces. 

French/Davis/Zimmerman Hall - ‘Little 3’

demoltion of little 3

Zimmerman Hall undergoes a demolition after asbestos removal.

While the demolition has already begun on Davis hall, the entire Little 3 complex will be demolished by the end of September. The fences surrounding the complex are projected to be there another month. 

The plans for what the Little 3 may be replaced with are still in the works. These dorms were only available to upperclassmen and had suite-style bathrooms. The demolition of Little Three is a part of the Hilltop Village plan to reconstruct the south neighborhood of WMU.

“I’m hopeful the administration will provide some information on what could be going there in the future,” Strazdas said. “The whole campus will have due notice on what would happen there in the future.”

Arcadia Flats

Arcadia Flats common area

An Arcadia Flats common area. 

Arcadia Flats is WMU’s newest dorm alongside Ring Road. The housing complex is apartment-style and one aspect of the Hilltop Village taking shape on campus. 

The residence hall offers five different housing options including a loft style ($1,200), studio ($950), two bedroom flat ($800), two bedroom studio ($750) and four person two bedroom flat ($585). The building features two wings with a total of 197 units and capacity to house 330 students. 

Some students have expressed frustration with the design of the building considering the high prices. Comparatively, a one bedroom apartment in Western View another on-campus apartment style housing complex costs $837. Students interested in residing in Arcadia Flats are chosen at random by entering a lottery. 

New Student Center

Ground Breaking Student Center

On Tuesday, September 10 Western Michigan hosted ground breaking celebration at the new student center construction site. Here, President Montgomery along with students and other executives ceremoniously break ground at the new student center set to open in 2021. 

Construction teams have made significant progress on the new student center since the majority of students were last on campus. WMU broke ground on the project in September 2019 and the building will open in Fall 2020. 

The project, which cost upwards of $70 million, was originally intended to be completed by fall 2021 but the timeframe was delayed due to the pandemic. The outer finishings of the building are reaching the final stages which allows construction to begin on the interior. 

At the groundbreaking, Vice President for Student Affairs Diane Anderson described the vision for the new student center as a space intended to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students. WMU President Edward Montgomery expressed his desire that the new student center would better reflect the needs of the student body. 

Voting Registration

Election III

Students waited in lines up to an hour long to vote at the Bernhard Center.

For the first time students were able to register to vote at the WMU Bernhard Center polling location for the November 2020 presidential election. Kalamazoo County held a satellite clerk’s office in the Bernhard Center to allow students to register on the day of the election. Previously individuals were required to have registered 30 days prior to election day. 

For more information on these changes, check out the below articles on Westernherald.com

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