A fresh wave of discontent has spread among councilmen, citizens, and students over what they say is unnecessarily small lettering on the recently installed welcome signs, which read “Home of Hillsdale College,” making it difficult for passing motorists to read.
At an Oct. 3 city council meeting, Councilman Bruce Sharp said he was unable to read the signs clearly when he first drove past them and he expected other people visiting Hillsdale have the same experience.
“They don’t stand out like the old signs did, so I can understand there’s going to be some interesting comments thrown our way, because they do look different. Everything about them is small compared to the old signs,” Sharp said.
Since Sharp’s comments at the meeting, students and members of the Hillsdale community have complained about the new signs’ design on social media.
Senior Sarah Reinsel, the graphic designer for the Hillsdale Forum, said the new signs’ fonts are visually jarring, which she said may account for part of the reason people dislike them.
“The size of ‘Historic Hillsdale’ is way too big, so the sign just kind of glares at you,” she said. “It also doesn’t read very nicely, because the scripted ‘Historic’ typeface competes with and detracts from the serifed ‘Hillsdale’ typeface.”
Reinsel also said the graphics make the signs appear asymmetric.
“The little Central Hall graphic in the middle of ‘Home of Hillsdale College’ makes the entire bottom line look off center. This emphasizes the sign’s disproportionate typography even more,” she said.
City Councilman Adam Stockford said he disagrees with anyone displeased by the new signs’ appearances. He said Hillsdale has more professional and appealing welcome signs in comparison to surrounding towns.
“I drive into every single town in South Central Michigan and Northwest Ohio, and our signs are as good as the signs as I’ve seen anywhere else,” he said. “Most cities just use those green MDOT signs, so I think ours are impressive — I like them a lot.”
Discontent first erupted among citizens when the city council decided to replace the old welcome signs with the current ones last spring. The city council offered upset citizens a compromise for the unpopular decision in Sept., saying that if citizens independently organize a committee to put an additional “It’s the people” sign next to or near the “Home of Hillsdale College” signs, the city will not attempt to impede their efforts.
Until someone forms such a committee, the signs will remain as they stand now.