Fundraiser for United Way

On Tuesday, March 17, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., on the first floor of the Student Center, students will be able to purchase tickets, two for $1, for root beer floats, cookie decorating, bead necklaces and clover-grams. Proceeds go to WCC’s campaign for the United Way. http://www.unitedway.org

Ready, set, wait: Student Center renovation put on hold

Ready, set, wait: Student Center renovation put on hold

QUINN DAVIS

Editor

In the Student Center renovation, this energy-wasting passageway will be replaced with a revolving door. Currently, these sliding glass doors are stuck open.

ROBERT CONRADI THE WASHTENAW VOICE

In the Student Center renovation, this energy-wasting passageway will be replaced with a revolving door. Currently, these sliding glass doors are stuck open.

Damon Flowers had planned the renovation of the first floor of the Student Center for months. On March 5, his hard work started to pay off, and the Washtenaw Community College Board of Trustees approved his $1.7 million budget for the project. Now, he’s asking them to hold off. The original plan was to start the renovation during this Spring/Summer semester, which Flowers said would give the construction company, Hobbs and Black Associates, only 60 days. “Even if you think you can get it done, in construction, you won’t,” said President Larry Whitworth. This was exactly what Flowers, vice president of Facilities Development and Operations, was afraid of. He didn’t want construction going into the Fall 2011 semester, which is when many students flood back to the campus after taking the Spring/Summer semester off. Students wouldn’t have access to food, and students in radio would suffer as Orchard Radio would still be down. “We want to make sure everybody has enough warning,” said Flowers. “What we saw was that everyone was wondering, ‘Is it starting? Is it not? What do we do?’ So this will give everyone enough time to plan.” Flowers’ new plan would chalk up the renovation starting date as April 2012. He recognizes that Orchard Radio will suffer from this, but suggests that it plan around it and perhaps try not to offer classes during Spring/Summer 2012. Since there hasn’t been a Board of Trustees meeting since Flowers and his crew made this decision, the trustees haven’t really had a chance to look over the plans. Chair Pam Horiszny and Trustee Stephen Gill were both dismayed to hear that plans were delayed, but also saw it as an opportunity. “I hope somehow along the way that we’re getting input from students. Maybe that’s part of the delay. That certainly would be my desire,” said Horiszny. “I’m disappointed if it has to be delayed, but I trust Damon’s judgment.” While it’s unclear whether or not Horiszny’s wishes will come true, there are some definite benefits that will come with the delay, besides giving everyone more time to plan. Whitworth highlighted that in the new plan, which he described as “an easy decision,” Gallery 1 would be able to move to the Morris Lawrence Building immediately. In the original plan, Gallery 1 would have a gap year between locations, since reconstruction in the ML building wouldn’t start until much later. No matter what, all parties agree that this renovation needs to happen, even in the midst of other construction projects. “I believe the students need a place that’s comfortable,” said Trustee Anne Williams. “I think it’s very important for the students to feel that, whether it’s to eat or to hang out.” Flowers also pointed out that there are many things that either just don’t work or are broken in the first floor SC, and that they’re impossible to fix since the parts aren’t sold anymore. One of the biggest problems is the second sliding door at the front entrance of the SC. If you watch it, you’ll notice that it’s stuck open. “Luckily, there’s the glass screen in front of it, which acts as a wind break,” said Flowers. “Without that, it would be really bad.” In the plans, these doors will be replaced by revolving ones. He hopes that this part of the process can actually start in January 2012 instead of April. He added that he doesn’t predict this postponement to affect the $1.7-million budget at all. Though Whitworth agrees with Flowers that the project needs to be put on hold, it’s hard for him to let go of the renovation. At this rate, he will leave WCC in August, as long as a new president hired, with a Student Center that still needs a lot of work. “It’s not attractive,” he said. “I’m a little embarrassed the way it looks right now.”

40 years later, still trying to ‘right an oversight’

40 years later, still trying to ‘right an oversight’

RYAN HUNTER

RYAN HUNTER

Contributor

When I stop to look around at the Student Center during a typical Tuesday morning and begin petitioning students for signatures in support of renaming the Student Center after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I experience a wide variety of feelings. I’m optimistic and want to be as and genuine as possible, but still there are goals that need to be accomplished. My partner, Tarah Thompson, and I are ready to begin the day’s work. Though our day is smooth, it’s not without challenges. The hardest, and sometimes frustrating, part is grabbing someone’s attention long enough explain who we are (the MLK Group) and what we are all about. I have about two seconds to win their attention, and I’ve learned that students and faculty can be, shall we say, dismissive before they’ve lunched. I sympathize with their disposition; time is fleeting, and usually when they see a petitioner with a clipboard, and then look to the Subway line growing longer and longer, they make a judgment call. When they choose food over us, I begin to wonder how the work we are doing is going to effect positive, meaningful change to our campus. But these momentary questions are quickly quelled when fellow classmates and faculty who will spare a few moments for us almost all remark they are glad to see someone putting forth the effort to rename the Student Center – as it was intended. That’s immediate affirmation that we are indeed doing good work. The original article published in The Washtenaw Voice, which prompted our efforts, posed a meaningful question: Would students find the issue of renaming a building an important or significant one? At first I found the proposition curious, and as time elapsed I couldn’t escape the notion that if any building were to be named after King, why not the Student Center? President Larry Whitworth has conveyed his beliefs in student involvement/activism, but also said he felt this campus has more pertinent issues than a Board of Trustees vote from 40 years ago. I would ask him, and others who agree with his position: Isn’t history repeating itself? Many would debate the merits of wars in which we are engaged today. King represented non-violence, toleration and unity. This is the very sentiment I try to convey to skeptical students and faculty. Mostly, the feedback we’ve received from students has been supportive, some apathetic and in the rare case, negative. While I was really surprised by the show of support, those who have opted not to participate stunned me. During one encounter, a Caucasian student told me that he wouldn’t sign our petition because he viewed MLK as someone who represented “black rights.” Though his response was refreshingly honest and blunt, it was certainly alarming. Have we not come any closer to unity than to view rights through a racial spectrum? If anything, I thought the election of President Barack Obama proved that my generation conquered the past specters of racial inequality, and were able to view each other according to the content of their character. Philosophical and political rhetoric aside, the rubber-meets-the-road moment that this exchange provided allowed us to communicate. Though in the end he still resisted signing the petition, our very encounter embodied the precise nature of King’s teachings: non-violence and toleration. It’s only fitting this would happen in the Student Center. While I haven’t seen this student again, my hope is that he has reflected on our conversation, as I have. The point of what we are trying to do is not to right a slight, but to right an oversight. Though President Whitworth said he was supportive of naming buildings of those who have made larger academic and financial contributions to this college, I would hope that the wealth of Dr. King’s philosophical contributions are not forgotten (not to mention the monies the college accepted toward this venture in 1968). King’s vision of equality and community are nowhere best reflected than in the City of Ann Arbor, or on its several college campuses. Our Student Center provides us with an opportunity to define what our community represents. Though that one Caucasian student and I may have had differing opinions, we must ask if 40 years ago he and I would have even been permitted to discuss the same issues on any college campus. The generation to which I belong is perhaps the first generation to reap the full benefits of Dr. King’s vision, and for that we are thankful.

MLK petition drive under way

MLK petition drive under way

MATT DURR

Managing Editor

RYAN HUNTER

RYAN HUNTER

Dressed in a button-down shirt and tie, jeans and his trademark penny loafers, Ryan Hunter stops as many people as he can to explain his cause. With each potential signature begins a quick history lesson on how the process began and why the matter is important. Hunter makes sure to give each new supporter his name and thanks them for their support. Hunter, 27, a political science major from Ann Arbor, has begun a campaign to officially name the Student Center after civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “The Student Center brings people together and, philosophically, that’s what Martin Luther King stood for,” said Hunter. He recently began collecting signatures that he plans to present to the Washtenaw Community College Board of Trustees. Hunter wants to gather at least 2,000 names before approaching the board. He is soliciting the support of not only students, but employees of the college and members of the community as well.
“Being a taxpayer, their input should be included,” said Hunter. Young, old, black, white, male, female, rich or poor, all are encouraged to sign the petition, just like King would have wanted. Hunter and another student, Tarah Thompson, a 24-year-old human services major from Ann Arbor, can be found every Tuesday on the first floor of the Student Center with clipboards in hand looking for supporters. Thus far the response has been better than anticipated, they said. “Students seemed really engaged, which is awesome,” said Thompson. After just two sessions of gathering signatures, Hunter and Thompson had more than 500 people pledge their support. One of those students was Amanda Pollard, 16, a Washtenaw Technical Middle College student. “I believe MLK was a great man, not only for African-Americans, but all people,” she said. “This man deserves to be honored.” And while not everyone is willing to sign the petition, Hunter remains friendly and thanks them for their time. Hunter said he was inspired to begin the petition after reading articles about the issue in The Washtenaw Voice. Earlier this year, the newspaper uncovered a decision made by the college’s board of trustees in 1968 to name the Student Center at the old Willow Run campus after the slain Civil Rights leader. Trustees also declared that naming the new campus SC building would have to wait until a naming process was in place. But it seems as if the naming of the building was forgotten. Hunter wants to reignite the discussion on the campus and see what the people who work and study at WCC think. He was especially interested in re-opening the conversation after some trustees implied publicly that students today were not interested in any sort of name change. With the idea in mind, Hunter began speaking with fellow students and gauging their interest in the possible change. After receiving some good feedback from students and faculty, Hunter decided action needed to be taken. That action includes the petition, but also canvassing the community. Hunter and Thompson will be going around various areas in the county to talk with taxpayers about their thoughts and to gather their support as well. “I don’t want this to come across as an ‘anti-board’ issue,” Hunter said. “We just want the board to reconsider the issue.” And with the upcoming renovations of the first floor of the SC to begin this summer, Hunter feels this would be a perfect time to rededicate the SC to Dr. King. “The cool thing about WCC is that you’re around so many different people, which is what Dr. King wanted,” he said, “and this building represents that.”

Officials cool to renaming SC to MLK Hall

Officials cool to renaming SC to MLK Hall

Despite overwhelming evidence, including a letter from King’s widow

MATT DURR

Managing Editor

Despite documents showing there may have been intent to name the Student Center building after Martin Luther King, the chances of renaming it after the civil rights leader now appear to be very slim, according to Board of Trustees Vice Chair Diana McKnight-Morton. “The board made a decision not to name any more buildings after a person,” said McKnight-Morton, referring to a decision made in 2003. At that time, the board felt there was no need to have every building on campus named after someone. Washtenaw Community College President Larry Whitworth was not fully aware of the circumstances behind the 1968 decision to name the old SC building MLK Hall, but he didn’t seem inspired to rekindle the idea. “What happened at Willow Run 50 years ago is kind of irrelevant,” said Whitworth. Naming buildings is a decision made by the trustees. And according to McKnight-Morton, it is not a decision that will be made without careful consideration. “There is no reason at this point to consider naming the Student Center MLK Hall,” she said. “It would have to be a compelling argument. And would students want the Student Center named MLK Hall?” State Rep. and former WCC Trustee David Rutledge feels that the issue is one of importance. “In light of the obvious intent of the Board of Trustees in 1968, according to the minutes, the building was to be named Martin Luther King Hall,” said Rutledge. “I believe the information should be presented to the current Board of Trustees.” More documents uncovered by The Voice support the idea that students in the late ’60s and early ’70s wanted a building at the Huron River campus named after the civil rights leader. The documents show that after naming the Willow Run Student Center MLK Hall, it was commonly referred to as “King Hall,” and was well-known on campus. Also uncovered were the highlights of a dedication ceremony of the newly named building along with a letter that was written by King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, for the ceremony. The naming of the Student Center building on the Huron River campus was delayed until a process was in place for naming buildings at the new campus. When that process was decided in 1978, many buildings received names at that time. MLK Hall, however, was not one of them. —Justin Fitins contributed to this report

More money needed to renovate SC

More money needed to renovate SC

MATT DURR

Managing Editor

The Student Center is in dire need of renovations that will cost much more than originally estimated, said Washtenaw Community College President Larry Whitworth, who has asked the college’s trustees to consider more than doubling the proposed budget to nearly $1.9 million. At the Jan. 25 board meeting, Whitworth asked the board to transfer $869,955 that was already approved for renovations in the Morris Lawrence Building to be moved to the budget for the SC renovations. He also warned them that the tab could rise dramatically. “It is in great need of renovation,” Whitworth told the board. “It’s an important visual element to the college. It’s really the first (thing) students on campus see.” WCC asked the state for the money for the renovations, but the college was denied. So Whitworth approached the board. He said he couldn’t be specific about plans and exact costs until an architect was brought in to explore options. “It’s going to require (more) money, and we hope to address that in the future at some point,” said Whitworth. Whitworth wanted the $869,955 at the Feb. 8 board meeting so that the school can begin the process of selecting a contractor. The total budget for the SC renovations would be $1,877,055, if approved by the board. The plan is to have the updates completed between the Winter and Fall semesters when there are fewer students on campus. Whitworth asked the board to revisit the budget for the renovations at its annual retreat this March.

It’s all in a name, or is it?

It’s all in a name, or is it?

WCC once had plans to honor MLK’s name on prominent building

MATT DURR

Managing Editor

The WCC Student Center offers a warm welcome on a blustery winter day.

ROBERT CONRADI THE WASHTENAW VOICE

The WCC Student Center offers a warm welcome on a blustery winter day.

Documents recently uncovered by The Washtenaw Voice show that the Student Center building on Washtenaw Community College’s campus was to be named Martin Luther King Hall. At the July 30, 1968 Board of Trustees meeting, members voted to name the Student Center at the old Willow Run campus, MLK Hall. Students on campus had suggested the naming of the hall, and also suggested that the new Learning Materials Center be named MLK Hall when it opened at the Huron River campus. The Huron River campus is now the main campus for WCC. The LMC building opened in 1976, but was never officially name MLK Hall. At the 1968 board meeting, the members deferred the final decision until a policy was in place for naming buildings, roads and other such landmarks on campus. The students represented the King Fund Memorial Committee and pushed for the naming of the buildings. They also presented the board with a plaque that was to hang in the cafeteria at the Willow Run campus. The students asked that the plaque be prominently displayed in the LMC once it opened.
The group finally offered a scholarship of $430.11 that the board accepted as well. Why the naming never took place is a mystery to many officials on campus. Former Board member and newly elected State Rep. David Rutledge weighed in on the issue. “In light of the obvious intent of the Board of Trustees in 1968, according to the minutes, the building was to be named Martin Luther King Hall,” said Rutledge. “I believe the information should be presented to the current Board of Trustees.”

New Sweet Spot about to get sweeter

New Sweet Spot about to get sweeter

Nicole Bednarski

Staff Writer

nbednarski@wccnet.edu
Sweet Spot display case

CHRIS ASADIAN THE WASHTENAW VOICE

The old Washtenaw Voice office is getting flavorful this Fall as The Sweet Spot takes over the newspaper’s prime Student Center location. After a successful year of business in the commons area of the Student Center’s first floor, the new branch of the Culinary Arts Department has received its own space. “It should help (The Sweet Spot) expand,” Vice President of Facilities Development and Operation, Damon Flowers said. “They’ve wanted a more retail-looking space. Now it will find its official home.” The project began this summer when The Voice was moved to the Technical and Industrial Building, TI 106, in order to make way for The Sweet Spot’s expansion. “We wish The Sweet Spot nothing but success in its new home,” Keith Gave, Coordinator of The Voice, said. “And I know enough about newspaper people to realize our staffers will spend plenty of time over there in line to buy the many wonderful things our bakery students will be producing.” Some of the items WCC students can look forward to seeing are various types of breads including pepperoni sticks, focaccia and Diane’s Bread, a small baguette-shaped French bread, on the softer side, brushed with garlic and olive oil and topped off with a little kosher salt. Sweeter goods such as spiced pumpkin rolls with cream cheese frosting, cupcakes, cookies, cakes, like the popular caramel-toffee cake, and possibly a few truffles will also be featured throughout the semester. “We try to use seasonal items, and we want to introduce new things,” instructor Sharyl Politi said. “We’ll always want to make new changes. There are fresh faces every semester, and most have new and different ways of marketing.” Politi teaches Bakery Management and Merchandising, a class that began in Fall 2008, and is responsible for The Sweet Spot’s business and overall success. “The most exciting thing is that it’s actually happening, being that we’ve talked about it for so long,” Politi said. “It was exciting last fall to have a space in front of Garrett’s (Restaurant) and it’s exciting now to have a space with a front window.” The Sweet Spot is expected to open Sept. 23, allowing the new Bakery I course just enough time to learn the skills needed to create the baked goods sold. All the items for sale at The Sweet Spot are produced by the students of Sheryl Hanewich, Washtenaw’s Baking I instructor. “Beginners Bakery creates it, and we sell it,” Politi said. The price of goods sold at The Sweet Spot will average between 50 cents for a large, chocolate-dipped strawberry and $2.50 for a mini-pie. Some 10-inch cakes will also be sold, but won’t be seen as often in the new store. Because it is run by the Bakery Management and Merchandising class, the hours of operation are limited to two days a week. But the program hopes to achieve such success that it will be able to stay open longer and more often as soon as Winter 2010.