[media-credit name=’JEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photo’ align=’alignnone’ width=’648′][/media-credit]University of Wisconsin students have a plethora of food choices, bars and shops surrounding the Madison campus, specifically on State Street.
But rural universities, such as the University of Connecticut, don't currently have as much from which to choose. Now, they hope to start attracting additional students by constructing a more urban environment.
Richard Veilleux, spokesperson at the Office of University Communications for the University of Connecticut, said the look of their campus area is going to change.
"[The future development] is going to be a combination of small storefronts with offices and apartments up top," Veilleux said.
Freshmen without cars at the university are campus-bound, Veilleux said, adding the expansion of a "small, New England type of community" will appeal to more students.
Evidence from a University of Connecticut exit survey indicates a student desire for a downtown area, even though the campus provides many activities for the students.
"There's a lot of stuff to do on the campus itself," Veilleux said. "We have 250 organizations and about 20 to 30 things going on every weekend."
Veilleux said more students will apply and attend the university upon completion of the project, and the development will be inviting to students touring the campus or coming for their two-day summer orientation.
The need for urban entertainment is clear at UW, according to the university architect Dan Okoli. He added the environment at Memorial Union, Union South and State Street attracts students to the UW campus because each provides a place for students to meet outside of their studies.
Okoli said State Street is convenient for students since it is a "walkable" street and is in an area that is accessible to campus and the rest of the downtown area.
"In the summer, it has a comfortable feel that makes people want to go there," Okoli said. "State Street primarily provides two things: small, diverse shops and restaurants, and it is pedestrian friendly."
There are also future development plans for Union South and the surrounding area.
According to the UW-Madison Campus Master Plan, Union South will be redeveloped and connected to the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery by pedestrian overpasses. Also in the works are a parking garage and extra hotel rooms.
Okoli said the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery has an outreach and educational component that will complement Union South. There will be a lot of activities for students and faculty involving entertainment and diversity.
"It will have a different feel than State Street, but it would be another place where students will gather," Okoli said.
Okoli said Memorial Union, Union South and State Street provide an environment for students to feel comfortable when they congregate.
"When people choose colleges, there are all kinds of factors — academics are one thing and campus settings are another," Okoli said. "The quality of campus life is one of the many things people consider when they choose a college."