‘Too expensive,’ Trustees chair Horiszny tells board
Students who have chosen not to pump iron at the Washtenaw Community College Health and Fitness Center because of the high membership prices may have some added muscle from WCC Board of Trustees Chair Pamela Horiszny.
“It’s just too expensive,” Horiszny said. “It was never my intent to see students go into debt over participating.”
Concerns over the high price of membership for students were raised after a year-end operations report had been issued to the trustees during the Jan. 10 meeting. The report reflected that there had been a 19 percent decrease in the number of students at the end of the 2011 fiscal year, which had initially planned for 1,680 student memberships. The HFC, which is managed by the Power Wellness fitness management company, had come up short with only 1,360 student memberships, according to the report.
“For me, it isn’t meeting the spirit of the original intent of the building, and that’s becoming more and more apparent,” Horiszny said.
The “initial spirit” of the HFC, she said, was to balance the membership demographic by 60 percent community memberships and the remaining 40 coming from student involvement. The current numbers reflect 79 percent community memberships and about 20 percent coming in from students.
Horiszny charged the HFC’s Senior Director Greg Hanby to look into how Power Wellness could lower student membership rates.
Membership prices in the HFC center vary for students and non-students. Non-student community members pay $60 per month plus initiation fees. WCC students pay $45 a month without initiation fees. Students enrolled in the PEA115 course, a physical fitness elective offered each semester, pay $160, which averages to $40 per month, according to Hanby.
Not good enough, Horiszny said, adding that she was strictly “speaking from my own perspective and opinion. It is a trend that I’ve noticed from the beginning. The fee is just too high for most students.”
Immediately following the meeting, Hanby told The Washtenaw Voice that he has assembled a task force to look into how the HFC could go about lowering the prices for students.
“We meet routinely each month to address the concerns of members,” Hanby said. “We were due to have our January meeting, so I said ‘let’s get together now.’”
In the HFC’s defense, Hanby attributed the drop in student numbers to changes in financial aid, which bar students receiving aid from taking the course more than twice.
“We probably saw the drop from the PEA changes,” Hanby said. “We weren’t even made aware of the changes until after we made our budget targets.”
While Hanby’s team will begin looking into how to lower the student rate, he said it would be hard to pinpoint how much a slight reduction would affect revenue.
“I think that a large increase could affect revenues considerably,” said Hanby, who added that the prices are high because of the amount of premium services offered to all members, included free fitness and health courses. Hanby also added that overhead revenue gets pumped back into the college’s pipelines.
Despite the services offered, some feel the rates are still too high.
“I agree that it costs too much,” said Dave Kvatadze, 26, from Ann Arbor, a graduate of WCC. “I pay the $60 fee, but $45 for students is just too high.”
For MarSean Wilson, students may complain about the price, but will still pay it if they want it bad enough.
“At Eastern, students pay upward near $80,” said Wilson, a 19 year-old PEA115 student from Ypsilanti. “I know a lot of students who don’t come here because they can’t afford it. But I also know of students who still pay it because they want to use the facilities. It’s just a matter of whether you want the fitness or not.”
A "gerbil tunnel" leads from WCC's new parking structure to the LA Building. (Bob Conradi/The Washtenaw Voice)
No more trolling for spaces. No more ugly confrontations when someone beats you to a spot. No more screaming at someone who just goes out to the car for a smoke – and doesn’t leave. No more being late for class because you couldn’t find a place to park.
No more excuses.
After a $12.7 million investment, the controversial parking structure is open for business this week, creating an estimated 544 more parking spaces.
Traffic patterns, however, may prove to be a challenge to some because of road construction not yet completed.
The forest that once occupied a broader area is seen through the windows of the new WCC parking structure. (Bob Conradi/The Washtenaw Voice)
According to Associate Vice President of Facilities Development and Operations Damon Flowers, the road built to connect Lot 7 at the Liberal Arts building to Lot 1 at the Morris Lawrence building will eventually be finished, but the Washtenaw County Road Commission will not permit opening it until some additional construction on Huron River Drive is completed.
Former Trustee David Rutledge, now a state representative, was one of the strongest proponents of the structure. He warns that no one should think all the parking problems are solved. He still encourages everyone at the college to evaluate the need for carpooling and to consider the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority bus routes.
“Students have complained for years about spending more time looking for parking on campus than they spend in class,” Rutledge said. “While the structure will provide welcomed relief, this structure is not the answer. Students and the college should still look for alternatives to get to campus.”
While the structure will be embraced by many, liberal arts transfer Janelle Eschler, 25, of Ann Arbor said she has no intention of using it. She opposed its construction.
An enclosed ramp connects WCC's new parking structure to the LA Building. (Bob Conradi/The Washtenaw Voice)
“I won’t drive to avoid using the structure due to the ecosystem that was disturbed during construction,” Eschler said. “Enrollment dropped like 30 percent just due to the economic situation and financial aid being revised.”
Rutledge said the area used for the structure included more brush than mature trees.
“From everything I understand, it was an area that wasn’t environmentally big, but most trees were replaced around campus and we tried to treat that area as sensitively as possible throughout construction,” Rutledge said.
Former President Larry Whitworth said that the structure has been long overdue.
“Yes. Enrollment had a big dip this past semester but the problem goes back 13 years ago when we only had 10,000 students. Still then, we had a parking problem,” Whitworth said.
The entrance of the new WCC parking stucture offers respite from the snow outside. (Bob Conradi/The Washtenaw Voice)
While enrollment dipped in Fall 2011 from record highs a year earlier, Whitworth confirmed that it’s projected that community college enrollment will continue to grow.
“People need to return to school throughout life,” he said. “Many people need to return to remain economically viable.”
The structure will not only provide more parking, but three of the four floors will be covered. While it will not be heated, the facility features two elevators and light sensors throughout
Flowers confirmed that students will not be able to access the Liberal Arts building after hours through the new glass-covered bridge. Security will also be housed on the first floor of the structure, and there will be 24-hour security throughout the building – as there is across campus.
“There are also 30 cameras that were installed in the structure and on the road to ensure no dead spots throughout,” Flowers said. “Call boxes have also been added on each floor if an emergency occurs.”
While the parking structure comes as welcomed relief, Rutledge hopes that the college is now rethinking its plan for the future – if it needs more parking.
“For too long, the college held a concept to building surface parking,” he said. “I hope that philosophy is evolving when expanding up instead of out.”
Timeline of progress for a parking solution (Click to enlarge)
In its final meeting of the year, the Washtenaw Community College Board of Trustees tabled a proposed agreement to extend the contract with Konica Minolta through 2017 to run the copy center and copiers on campus.
The proposed agreement would have replaced the existing copiers on campus with newer models and increased the number of copiers on campus. But WCC would have to extend its agreement with Minolta an additional three years, essentially leasing the new copiers until the end of the contract. The current agreement lasts until 2014.
Patrick McLean at a Board of Trustees meeting last January. [Bob Conradi/The Washtenaw Voice]
Board treasurer Patrick McLean questioned the proposed agreement, wondering if leasing an amount of service from Minolta would be better for the college instead of purchasing the copiers outright.
After hearing McLean’s concerns, other members of the board agreed to table the agreement so more options could be explored.
Also on the Dec. 13 agenda, the board voted to rescind the policy of amount paid to club sports coaches and the stipends they receive. After rescinding the policy, the board agreed on a new policy that lowered the amount paid for some coaches, while other coaches will receive a slight raise.
Washtenaw Technical Middle College was granted permission to increase the amount of students enrolled in its program from 350 to 400 students. The increase is not expected to have any effect on the size of the offices on WCC’s campus.
The board also granted Emeritus Staff Status for 10 former employees who each had more than 15 years experience as faculty, support staff or administration. The 10 former employees had a combined 199 years of service at WCC.
As expected, the board approved the purchase of 30 high-definition camcorders for the digital video program. The 30 cameras will be purchased for nearly $90,000 and will help keep the program up-to-date with the developing technology and software.
Finally, the board voted to approve a new academic program at WCC. The Supply Chain Management degree was unanimously approved and will begin as a program in the Winter 2012 semester. The degree will fall in as an associate’s degree in applied science.
It’s hard for James O’Connell to study for his classes on campus because he has attention deficit disorder (ADD).
With the loud noises from laughing students and music playing on laptops, it’s easy for the 20-year-old undecided major from Plymouth to get distracted. However, by using specific strategies he doesn’t let this keep him from doing well in school.
“It’s like every noise is a distraction,” O’Connell said. “I need almost no noise and no movements.”
Having ADD or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) can add extra pressure on students studying for finals. Every case is unique, and people can explore what makes it easiest for them to retain information. Some students need white noise in the background to concentrate, and others need complete silence.
Sometimes students acknowledge that having ADHD means that they just aren’t able to focus as long as they’d like. Acknowledging this about themselves lets them take the time that they need to learn the information.
“When I’m studying, I have to play something else,” said Leeandra Hardesty, 19, culinary arts major from Ann Arbor. “So my attention stays on my computer. After a while, I have to stop because I get bored or too tired. I get good grades. It’s all about finding what helps you study.”
While the Learning Support Center doesn’t test for these disorders, it is happy to help accommodate students who have a documented problem. Debra Urquhart, a learning disability evaluator for Learning Support Services and psychologist, is glad that sometimes it can offer students a quiet place to take tests or more time on tests. Students requesting this kind of assistant can get a form to take to their doctors.
According Urquhart, once students have reached college they have often discovered the methods that allow them study best. However, there are always new solutions that students can find to optimize their studying habits.
“You have to figure out what works for you,” Urquhart said. “Some people find that doing a little bit every day helps if they have difficulty with short-term memory.”
Urquhart also pointed out that there are a multitude of new possibilities with technology. This wasn’t always an option for students before. Now they can record lectures, use apps that help them study and use their phone to help keep track of homework.
There are apps for iPads, programs for computers and smart pens that can help students study. While some of them can be expensive, a lot of them are cheap and can be a big help to students. Deborah Welch, a testing special assistant, helps students with technology as well.
“Dragon will take your audio voice and change it into text,” Welch said. “However, there is a program built into Windows 7 called Speech Recognition. Dragon is better, but Speech Recognition is free.”
These are all great for studying, but some students have trouble coming up with what they want to write about in English classes. Mind mapping offers students with difficulty thinking up essays a way to create an outline. Starting with one central idea, the program can create a spreadsheet with bubbles that can be linked and then organized into a more formal outline. XMind is a free version of this software that can be downloaded onto a computer.
Another serious issue for people with ADHD and ADD is organizing. Staying focused and on task on an ongoing basis isn’t easy for everybody, but it’s even more difficult for people with these disorders. Welch said that there are several free apps for phones and iPads that will help students to keep themselves on track. Some people are more comfortable using planners, but it can be helpful when the device gives reminders.
Welch suggests looking through apps for ones that help students stay organized. They exist for many devices, and they can be a huge help with keeping students organized. All-in-one apps will synchronize notes with recorders and work much like a smart pen. Todo is an app from the Apple Store that encompasses many areas of staying organized, including synchronizing with the online service they offer and ways to label tasks as recurring or put tasks in lists.
Also, she says that some who have trouble focusing may have better luck when they have white noise in the background. Some like having the TV blasting, and others prefer listening to music. She also said that some students can use this to their advantage and may be able to better multitask than those who don’t suffer from disorders.
“I listen to music all the time,” said Carolyn Prince, 18, a computer networking major from Howell. “It helps me focus when I’m tuned to the music. I’ve noticed it helps me concentrate longer on studying.”
Having attention-deficit disorder (ADD) is “like living inside a giant kaleidoscope,” said James, adding that the ADD brain attempting to sort all the competing sensory input can be “like a Ping-Pong ball in a drier.”
These were some of the many insights shared with about 18 students and staff at the Neurodiversity Project’s first public forum at Washtenaw Community College on Dec. 5.
People with brain differences are often stigmatized as retarded, diseased or lacking in character, all false impressions. This public forum was intended to provide information about a multitude of brain differences and to put a human face on them.
The logo for the Neurodiversity Project
Speakers included Menara, 26; Veronica, 43; Ja Tonio, 30; James, 20; and Dan, 23. They asked that their last names not be used, fearing long-term repercussions, like greater difficulty finding employment.
Menara set the stage, defining brain differences as “anything that would cause people to be thinking in a different path” than average. She listed names for many of these: ADHD, autism, dyslexia, bipolar, major depression . . . it’s a long list. She also expressed how she and others like her desired to help others in a similar situation yet feared outing themselves because it can lead to more stigma.
Veronica spoke about psychosis that can cause people to lose contact with reality, hear voices, see hallucinations, etc. She shared the struggles she faced after an infectious disease put her in a coma for four months.
Ja Tonio, in a rapid-fire delivery, described the causes and consequences of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and then related his personal story.
Unlike many PTSD sufferers who were traumatized by war, Ja Tonio’s trauma was childhood abuse at the hands of foster parents. His quest to understand his condition led him to study psychology.
Though sometimes using anti-anxiety medication, Ja Tonio found the best help came from maintaining a positive attitude. “Picture the sunny dawn,” Ja Tonio said.
James came to speak about ADD. Forgetting to bring his PowerPoint slides, he initially struggled to organize his thoughts, but then he did an admirable job fielding questions from the audience.
The audience had much to contribute, too. A mother shared her experiences in helping her son with ADHD to succeed in school. Some audience members shared their personal struggles, what helped them and what made things worse.
Dan spoke of autism spectrum disorders and sensory processing disorders (SPD), listing a broad range of possible symptoms.
All the speakers agreed that giving a name to mental differences is often difficult since one symptom tends to mask another. Many people may best be diagnosed “NOS” – not otherwise specified – they said.
Mental differences are common. People can possess such differences while friends and acquaintances remain unaware of their condition and they appear “normal.”
The members of the Neurodiversity Project courageously demonstrated in their forum just how capable and human such people can be.
For more information about the club, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Deep within the campus of Washtenaw Community College, serenity is fragile.
Tyree Walker of Ypsilanti knows that at times, frustration runs high around campus. The 21-year-old business management major from Ypsilanti dreads that anxiety’s emic roots may only get worse as the school year proceeds.
“It’s all emotion, pure emotion and stress,” Walker said. “We can assume it gets worse towards the end.
As the Fall semester wound down, student altercations appeared to rise, for reasons only those involved might know. But to liberal arts student, Lashawnna Roberts, age 24, a large variety of contrasting perspectives appears to be the leading cause of disagreements.
“From time to time, you get conflict around here,” Roberts said. It’s caused by the mix of personalities; people have a lot of differences.”
A resident of Ypsilanti, Roberts worries that academic stress may create more confrontations in an already testy and variant student body.
“Stress is a big part of it, especially towards the end,” Roberts said. “A lot of the students here are adults, and they have a lot going on in their lives that could lead them to get upset.”
Considering the intangible motives behind what students and faculty viewed as a rash of verbal altercations on campus, Roberts warns that the school’s security officers may be unable to address conflicts that remain verbal, a form that she views as being just as damaging to the peace as any physical threat.
“It depends on how far it goes,” Roberts said. “Security can’t stop arguments, no matter how bad.”
Jacques Desrosiers, director of Campus Safety and Security, maintains that student confrontations are within his sights. While asserting that altercations rarely intensify to physical confrontation, Desrosiers sees them as part of his reality on campus. It is a reality he rarely sees becoming an issue for his department.
“They happen,” Desrosiers said. “It’s the way of life, but they seem to happen mostly in the parking lot over spaces. They rarely escalate into anything else.”
Having to break up arguments, preventing them from getting worse, Desrosiers is not apprehensive of any particular moment in the semester, citing the sheer size of WCC’s student body.
“There isn’t really a trend to point to,” Desrosiers said. “With 12,000 people on campus, everyone will never see eye to eye.
John Rinke, director of support services doesn’t tolerate aggression in the Career Planning and Counseling department either. Often called upon to deal with angry students, Rinke is aware of the magnitude of reasons a student may have for becoming inflamed. He still does not put up with it. Rinke primarily blames stress.
“Everyone responds to stress differently,” Rinke said. “Almost anything can lead to it, anything from soup to nuts. It depends on who you’re talking to and their learned behaviors.”
Enacting a zero-tolerance policy for unruly behavior in his department, Rinke is more than willing to deny assistance to disrespectful students.
“I don’t put up with it,” Rinke said. “Students sometimes come up to the counter and are very angry. We don’t help them when they’re overly assertive. I tell them ‘I can’t help you’ until they calm down.”
Deron Wilson kringling Camilee Stinson, 22, criminal justice student.
Chris Ozminski, 50, a digital video production student runs up to Erica Lemm, Washtenaw Community College Club Sports Coordinator, and, without so much as a proper introduction, sits on her lap. A friend with a camera snaps a photo, and Ozminski smiles and says to Lemm: “You’ve just been Kringled.”
Kringling: The act of sitting on an unsuspecting person’s lap while someone else takes a photo of it, as in Kris Kringle, that’s right, Santa’s lap.
According to Detroit radio station WKQI 95.5 FM, “Kringling is the next new fade. The station claims to have started the craze.
WCC is not a stranger to the holiday cheer of Kringling.
“I really enjoy Kringling,” said Deron Wilson, 26, a business management student from Ypsilanti who had a jolly ole’ time running around the student center on Dec 5. Kringling strangers.
Silly? Maybe. But fun. In the holiday spirit, a couple Voice staffers ventured out into the Student Center as well to start their own Kringling movement and even Kringled a couple of administrators.
When someone jumped onto the lap of Peter Leshkevich, director of Student Development and Activities, he immediately asked, “And what did you want for Christmas?”
Click on the thumbnails below to view more photos of Kringling from around campus:
Jason Hart is qualified and licensed to carry a concealed handgun. He can carry his pistol in shopping malls and movie theaters, but not on campus.
Feeling unsafe anywhere he was stripped of arms, Hart, 34, of Tecumseh, a psychology and English major at Washtenaw Community College, looked to national grassroots organization, Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC), to answer his call for change.
“What attracts me to the movement is the need for an armed public,” Hart said. Pistol-free zones inhibit the rights of law abiding citizens. It’s more of an open invitation to criminals.”
Despite such pressure, Campus Safety and Security does not support lifting school regulations on firearms. Director of security, Jacques Desrosiers, stands firm that students at WCC are secure.
“Students are well taken care of enough on this campus,” Desrosiers said. “I can’t see a logical reason to carry a gun.”
Desrosiers asserts that, in working with the police, threats to students will be handled timely by the school. He fears that lifting restrictions could put weapons in the wrong hands.
“We know we will get very rapid response from local law enforcement,” Desrosiers said. “A person untrained with a gun can mean more danger. Violent crime is very low here.”
Reid Smith, SCCC’s regional director of the Midwest, is concerned with campus crime, but assures that the group’s agenda is for the liberties of those within the law.
“Our contention has always been that criminals are not going to bother with licensing,” Smith said. “If someone is licensed to carry a gun in public, they are responsible enough to carry it on campus. We look to strengthen the rights of those already licensed.”
The SCCC has continued to pursue those liberties since 2007, following the Virginia Tech shooting, without any endorsement from larger establishments. Not to be deterred, Smith is optimistic about potential law changes his group may bring about through its “open holster” protests, informational tabling and by hosting campus debates.
“We don’t have any backing or funding from larger organizations, or have even really been assisted at all,” Smith said. “We hope to get legislation passed that allows students to carry guns on college campuses. We’re not just protesting, but starting a conversation.”
Former Washtenaw Community College counselor Cole Jordan appeared in a California court and pleaded no contest to charges of assault with a deadly weapon of a police officer in 1968.
Jordan was in San Mateo County Superior Court on Nov. 23. He will be sentenced there in February.
Jordan shot at police officers after they tried to arrest him for credit card fraud in South San Francisco in 1968. After pleading no contest in 1969 (under his real name, Ronald Bridgeforth), Jordan jumped bail and was on the run for more than 40 years before turning himself in last month. During those 40 years, he assumed the identity of Cole Jordan and worked at WCC for more than 30 years.
He faces up to 15 years in prison. Attorneys for the state have said they will seek a severe punishment, while Jordan’s attorneys are asking for probation.
The $12.7 million parking structure is scheduled to open at the beginning of the Winter semester, adding an additional 544 parking spots. But instead of Washtenaw Community College students spending their time trolling for parking spaces, they could face frustrating traffic problems.
According to Associate Vice President of Facilities Development and Operations Damon Flowers, the road built to span from Lot 7 at the Liberal Arts building to Lot 1 at the Morris Lawrence building will be completed, but the Washtenaw County Road Commission will not permit opening of the road until some additional construction on Huron River Drive is completed.
“A side to the project was to widen part of Huron River Drive at ML,” Flowers said. “We had the contract, the board approved and we were ready to go, but we didn’t get all of the approvals from the road commission in time, leaving only 45 days to complete the project.”
Jared Angle The Washtenaw Voice
A glass-covered walkway will protect students from wind, rain, and snow while they walk to the LA building from the new parking structure.
Jared Angle The Washtenaw Voice
The partially finished stairwell connects the floors of the parking garage to the second-level walkway to the LA building.
Lot 7 will be accessible to enter the structure, but the part of the road leading from the structure to Lot 1 will be blocked off until the road work can be completed.
The entrance coming in from Clark Road will be formed into a T-shaped intersection. Flowers confirmed that there will be a stop sign in place when entering from Clark Road leading up to the LA building, and thru traffic will be coming and going from the structure toward the Gunder-Myran building.
“Just for the winter, entry and exiting the structure will be just from one direction,” he said.
Upon entering the structure, there will be two lanes on the LA side and two on the ML side. Traffic will be permitted to enter the structure on the LA side and exit on the ML side, and the road will guide traffic back out to Lot 7, Flowers said.
Due to excessive rain in September, the project was set back by two weeks and the contractor has been accelerating the project by working 10-hour shifts and Saturdays.
“Basically, we’re taking advantage of every clear day,” Flowers said. “We’re getting close to being caught up.”
Before completion, both elevators need to be installed, lights on the third and fourth floor need to be mounted along with signage. A clear sealant has to be applied to the concrete that is weather sensitive before striping and painting can begin.
Workers are in the process of applying the facial finish to the building, called pre-cast, Flowers said.
“Pre-cast is a material that sits on the finished material,” he said. “They look like big panels, are polished and look much nicer than raw concrete. The structure will look a lot like the GM building, with boxy windows without glass.”
Although the structure will be open starting Jan. 9, the three vegetative roofs located on top of the security area and the two elevator towers will not be planted until spring.
More than 300 trees were uprooted to make way for the structure and more than half have been planted throughout campus in and around the structure and along Huron River Drive. Of those, 105 trees have been planted out behind the campus located near the Business Education building.
For now, the plan is to move forward despite the traffic issues. Flowers confirmed that there are no plans for the project to leak into the Winter session.
“December is a contractual date that was put into place a year ago,” he said. “Due to painting, reality is that it needs to be done before that because some of the work has to be done before it gets too cold.”