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R’easons UNCG should not expand Into Glen’wood

It’s Glenwood

Last week UNCG informed residents of the historic Glenwood district of its intention to expand its tentacles across Lee Street and into their neighborhood. Unlike the proposed development in College Hill, the university itself intends to construct a new recreation center, UNCG police station and enough beds and buildings for 2,500 students. The area the university plans to annex is reportedly the four-sided area running from Aycock Street to Freeman Mill Road and Lee Street to Haywood Street. The Glenwood neighborhood has been there a hundred years now, and it boasts an eclectic mix of residents that vary across the socio-economic strata. Displacing current residents and tossing a couple thousand college students in their place would detract from the neighborhood’s revitalization efforts.

It’s (ahem) Glen-hood

Though when most people think of Glenwood the first things that come to mind are not history or diversity — it’s that they wouldn’t want to walk through there at night. Glenwood’s reputation for crime is not unfounded; its crime rate per capita consistently outpaces the city as a whole. Its scattered abandoned houses and buildings make it a popular locale for transients and the homeless.

UNCG’s Growth expectations are Unrealistic

According to a May 18 story in the News & Record, UNCG currently houses 25 percent of its students on campus and would like to increase that to 40 percent in the near future. They plan to account for this influx of new students with the Glenwood project. If the project gets the green light, 800 beds would be ready for occupancy by fall of 2012, and the rec center, police station and remaining student housing would be complete by 2014. What will happen in the next four years that will increase the number of students living on-campus by 15 percent? Are they assuming that if they build it, kids will come?

UNCG Is already the right size

UNCG seems bent on expanding both in size and notoriety with little regard for the niche it already occupies among universities in the UNC system. Its compact and urban campus allows the student to be a part of the community as a whole, beyond the ivory towers, without the insular nature of a college town. With its noted music, drama and English departments, convenient size and low tuition, UNCG feels more like a liberal arts school than any other public school in the state (UNC-Asheville hippies aside). With ceaseless expansion UNCG might detract from its strengths by raising class sizes, and tearing at the delicate fabric that ties it closely with the surrounding community.

Local displacement

Unlike the much ballyhooed and protested proposed College Hill development, expansion to Glenwood would displace people from their homes, not simply build upon an unused lot. The settlements offered by the city/school to Glenwood home owners will likely be much lower than what their property would be worth years down the road at Glenwood’s current pace of renewal. You do have a chance to let the university know what you think. UNCG will host two public meetings to discuss their proposed plan for Glenwood expansion on Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in Room 1A of the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center.

It’s across the street… and the tracks

Picture this, prospective parents of UNCG students: your child walking home to her dorm on Glenwood Avenue late at night from cramming at the library or bingeing at the bar. UNCG intends to assuage that knot of parental concern swelling in your gut with a tunnel going beneath Lee Street — and the dreaded railroad tracks — to the Glenwood campus. But students will still roam up and down Lee Street between Aycock and Tate streets whenever the occasion, such as a run to Beef Burger, calls for it. They could even become chums with the crowd that gathers in the pre-dawn hours at Able Body. But back to those pesky train tracks real quick. They serve as the unofficial demarcation between all things university and all things coliseum, Unity Club and Greensboro Video News. The boys in blue even treat the other side of Lee Street with trepidation. Those working the late shift post up at the Circle K beside Wendy’s on the Spring Garden side of Lee and never venture to the adjacent Great Stops on the Glenwood side of the Aycock and Lee intersection.

UNCG PolIce do not need four statIons

Of course a new substation in Glenwood would increase police presence in that area, but why should the burden to reduce crime in a surrounding residential community fall to a university police department? The UNCG police department already has three substations within a mile of each other surrounding campus. In recent years they have taken it upon themselves to extend their patrols well beyond the confines of campus and into College Hill, Walker Avenue and the northern section of Glenwood through a mutual-aid agreement with the city. Ask any UNCG student caught exceeding the speed limit on Spring Garden Street, or playing music loudly after bedtime in the neighborhoods around campus whether the UNCG Police Department needs to increase their presence in the surrounding community and see what they say. In fact, can the students get a vote on the matter?

It’s just a ploy to get students to basketball games

This past year UNCG moved men’s basketball games out of microscopic, on-campus Fleming Gymnasium and into the historic yet cavernous Greensboro Coliseum. The move is intended in the long term to raise UNCG’s athletic profile. What better way to increase student attendance than to place 2,000 some odd students within a short walk — without having to cross Lee Street — of the coliseum?

They can build on the ‘golf course’

UNCG is the only campus I’ve ever been to that has a three-hole golf course and an extensive wooded area and walking trails buttressing the north side of campus. They are proud of the diverse ecosystem and watershed, but it’s not illogical to reason that UNCG’s student-housing issues could be handled with land already at the university’s disposal (and where no one currently lives). That is unless UNCG actually meets their desired quota of 40 percent on-campus residency in the near future. But that figure is totally unrealistic because…

Students don’t have to live on campus anymore

The trend in higher education is to offer online and distance-learning courses, and UNCG is no different. My online literature course last semester included students from cities and towns scattered across the state who worked on their degrees in increments while still keeping their jobs and raising their families. Furthermore, gone are the days when full-time students all live in university housing. Most kids high-tail it out of the dorms after the mandatory stint as freshmen to get away from those pesky RAs and creepy, random roommates. It seems that UNCG is in the midst of an identity crisis, but instead of settling for a convertible they want Glenwood.