BY KELLY BRACHA |
A long and arduous journey for Kevin Krease and Garret Koehler came to a pivotal point when ESPN announced that Detroit is now a finalist in the bid to become host city of the Summer X Games.
Krease, Koehler and a number of city administrators, business leaders and other supporters submitted their official bid for the project in April. Joining Detroit as finalist are Chicago, Austin, Texas and Charlotte, N.C.
This will be the first time in more than 10 years that the X Games will be hosted outside of Southern California’s downtown Los Angeles area.
“The X Games have grown significantly and has been enjoyed by millions of fans over the past 10 years in Los Angeles,” said Scott Guglielmino, senior vice president of programming and X Games, said in a statement. “Our partners AEG and the city of Los Angeles have been instrumental in our success. As we embark on a year of significant global expansion and transformation for X Games in 2013, we are excited about the potential each of these cities bring, and look forward to identifying our next host city for the X Games.”
Krease, 27, and Koehler, 26, started working on the bid last August.
“This final stage is really bringing them in and continuing this theme of opportunity, of creativity, of really, community grass-roots support,” Krease said. “What we need to do now is expose the X Games to this community of support locally and continue communicating to them what we view as the changing tides of people and of new life and new beginning and new opportunity, and making ESPN feel like they’re continuing this revitalization of the city.”
Washtenaw Community College student and avid BMXer Ryan Marsden cannot wait for the opportunity to see the X Games in person.
“I always wanted to go to Los Angeles to see the games, but never had the chance,” said Marsden, 19, a liberal arts major from Ann Arbor. “If they come to Detroit, it’ll be like a dream come true for me.”
Marsden has been interested in BMX (bicycle motocross) since high school.
“My friends and I used to make dirt paths and make our own obstacles and ramps,” he said. “I was hooked and since then it has been a huge hobby of mine.”
ESPN may decide on a host city as early as June. Officials will be spending the next 4-6 weeks visiting finalist cities.
“The site visit is our chance to show ESPN an authentic feel of what it’ll be like for the X Games to be in Detroit,” Krease said. “Our motto is ‘make it so ESPN can’t say no.’”
The X Games could create a significant economic impact on the city of Detroit as well as a much-needed boost in tourism.
“Detroit will be the perfect venue,” said Ben Clarke, owner of People Skate and Snowboard in Keego Harbor. “Detroiters will really work for it on a grass-roots level. You won’t see the same passion or participation from youth and young adults in any other major city.”
Detroit’s bid started a Facebook and Twitter campaign and a website encouraging people to sign up and “join the movement.”
“To potentially connect with a city like Detroit, which clearly is on the way back,” ESPN’s Guglielmino said, “and to be able to support that is a very intriguing proposition to us.”
The gift of life – celebrated through Organ Donor Awareness Month
BY CINDY SAMORAY |
Rick Coogan was shocked to be in such pain after donating a kidney in 1989, when surgeons made a seven-inch flank incision and carved off a rib in order to remove the organ.
It wasn’t nearly as painful for Claus Buchholz, when he donated a kidney just a few months ago, thanks to modern technology.
But there were far more similarities in these medical procedures nearly a quarter-century apart. Both involved a fair amount of anguish during the decision-making process – though both donors acknowledge they cannot imagine reaching a different conclusion because both resulted in successfully extending the quality of life of a loved one.
“I couldn’t have said no,” said Coogan, 65, of Dearborn Heights, a retired supervisor at Ford Motor Co. who gave a kidney to his ailing father.
“I volunteered to be tested pretty quick,” Buchholz’s, 53, of Lansing, who gave a kidney to his sister. “She was always the generous one, she deserved this.”
While surgical advances have improved the process of organ donation dramatically in the past quarter century, the need for healthy, life-sustaining organs is greater than ever. While April is recognized around the world as Organ Donor Awareness Month, there were 127,725 people in the United States waiting for a human organ transplant in March, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.
Michigan’s share of that waitlist is 3,131. Buchholz’s recent donation to his sister, reduced that number by one. But Coogan’s wife, Connie, 64, a retired State of Michigan supervisor from the Department of Social Services, is still on that list, waiting for a liver. She suffers from scleroderma, a debilitating disease that attacks the organs.
Eighteen people die each day, waiting for a live saving organ transplant, according to Gift of Life Michigan. But one donor’s death can save up to eight lives by sharing, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys , pancreas and intestines. Donors can also enhance the lives of others through tissue donation by giving corneas, skin and bone.
“The decision to donate isn’t the hard part, it’s losing their loved ones,” Mark Gravel said, a registered nurse and director of donation initiative at The University of Michigan Transplant Center.
But as they say in the donor business: “Don’t take your organs to heaven. Heaven knows we need them here.” But these life-giving decisions can be brutally difficult.
“Pediatrics [cases] are always the hardest … the only time it’s easier is when they are adults who have given consent,” Gravel said, adding that tragedy and deadly accidents happen without warning.
“Loss of control at the realization they are going to die is hardest on the families,” Gravel added. “Donation finally gives them the opportunity to make a decision and find something good from something so bad.”
Eighty percent of that waitlist – enough people to fill Michigan Stadium – wait for a kidney.
Fortunately, kidney donation doesn’t always involve tragedy and death, as Coogan and Buchholz can attest.
Detailed memories of that spring and summer in 1989, those months prior to surgery are vivid and seem more like yesterday than 24-years ago, Connie said. However, both recall it was an emotional, strained and stressful time in their lives.
Coogan was not close to Tom, his father, which complicated the situation. Nevertheless, he decided to free his father from dialysis.
“I feel pretty good about it, I felt pretty good about it,” Coogan said, about his decision to donate. “I wouldn’t do anything different.”
But in 1989, the open-nephrectomy technique used to remove a donor kidney was much more invasive and required a lengthy hospital stay
“They took out a rib. They kind of split me sideways,” Rick said. “I was shocked … I was in such pain.”
Six-months passed before some sense of physical normalcy returned, though a complete recovery took several years more.
“I was messed up for so long … for at least two or three years,” he added. “There would be times I would get (back) spasms that would take me down to my knees.”
That’s in stark contrast to the hand-assisted laparoscopic nephrectomy used today.
When Buchholz, an engineer and father of two, donated his kidney to sister, Anette Buchholz, in February, the experience was far less painful.
Anette, 52, a product engineer and part-time actor from Twin Lake, on Michigan’s west side, learned of her pending kidney failure 10 years ago.
“At that time, the plan was to wait and watch,” Anette said, noting that in recent years she began “to feel more fatigued, more forgetful and wasn’t feeling up to par.”
Two-years ago Anette’s doctor referred her for a transplant evaluation.
“It was such a blessing that my brother and many others volunteered to be a donor,” Anette said. Her brother recalled the donor process, including his own anguish about it.
“I spent most of a day getting tests and scans,” Buchholz said. “To be honest, I did have some reservations about donating. There were so many volunteers, but I was the best match.”
Buchholz talked it over again with his wife, Janet.
“He asked what I thought,” Janet said, adding that she told him, “’I can’t tell you what to do, but if it were my sibling, it’s kind of a no-brainer.’”
Because Anette still had kidney function at the time she was evaluated, there was no rush to surgery. Eighteen-months passed before Anette’s kidneys began to shut down and dialysis was imminent – but her brother needed to attend to some important things in his life, too.
“I coach my son’s high school robotics team, our season ends in February,” Buchholz recalled. “The surgery had to be scheduled around my life … I needed to be up and running before the team competes in the World Tournament in April.”
As the transplant date approached, Anette was having her own reservations.
“I was grateful, but didn’t want him to make this sacrifice for me,” Anette said, “just before surgery I said, ‘you don’t have to do this.’”
But he did, and Buchholz gave that ultimate gift to his sister.
Surgeons only need small openings to remove a kidney now – two one-inch and one four-inch incisions is all it takes. Buchholz kept all his ribs and went home the next day.
“That first week, I had to move carefully and was in a little bit of pain,” Claus said, “but I feel pretty normal now.
Just the Coogan family was touched twice by transplant, so has Buchholz family. Janet’s mother died 12-years ago and was a tissue donor.
“Because she was an artist, one of the things we really felt good about was giving the gift of sight,” Janet said. “Giving those gifts will keep them alive and not only in our hearts.”
To become a registered donor, visit Gift of Life Michigan’s web-site http://giftoflifemichigan.org or any Secretary of State office.
Crop artist Stan Herd plants marigolds and pansies that are part of a 100-by-50-foot artwork at Pendleton’s Country market near Lawrence, Kansas.(COURTESY PHOTO MCT CAMPUS)
P>BY M. M. DONALDSON
Ever consider that getting your hands dirty is good not only for you, but your community as well?
Take it from the Botanical Garden of North Carolina, which on its website says: “benefits of horticultural therapy include physical activity, relaxation and enjoyment, skill development, creative expression, sensory stimulation, intellectual and personal growth, social interaction, a sense of productivity and self-satisfaction and a spiritual connection with life.”
But you can find out for yourself by volunteering with a variety of local venues – where dirt under the fingernails is a sign of philanthropy – and experience the therapeutic benefits of working with the soil and plants.
Spending time handling a heavy humus soil, tending to a tender tomato transplant, or even enjoying the fragrance of pruning back a Russian sage bush, are simple rewards a volunteer may encounter. Those who volunteer know the intrinsic value of their time given, but others may shy away from volunteering because they do not realize the benefit to themselves.
“Volunteering builds skills and gives a track record to put on resumes,” said Michelle Machiele, a Washtenaw Community College adviser with Career Services.
There are no volunteer requirements for obtaining an associate degree or certificate at WCC, but she suggests students keep their eyes out for volunteer fairs and look at the employment resources page on the college’s website.
“There are opportunities to grow as leaders, elected or willingly,” Machiele continued. “Not everyone can be voted club president, but there are opportunities to organize events and take responsibilities such as organizing volunteers and writing media releases. Employers are looking for passionate people who are responsible.”
Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum boast more than 800 acres of nature where volunteers can dig in the dirt. Between 300-400 people volunteer regularly each year at Matthaei, with more than 1,000 others volunteering for special events. Many schools, corporations, and various community and interdepartmental groups donate their time.
Tara Griffith, volunteer coordinator at Matthaei Botanical Gardens who has been employed with there for six years, explains why people choose to volunteer at Matthaei.
“The No. 1 thing I hear is the ongoing learning,” Griffith said. “It’s like one big classroom. You don’t have to be highly skilled to volunteer. You learn by doing; it’s very hands on.”
Volunteers are able to take advantage of the expert knowledge the staff provides. Other perks include seeing what it is like behind the scenes and have access to things regular visitors ordinarily would not see. Those who come regularly have built great friendships with fellow volunteers.
“Service-learning projects for WCC students are a great way to build resumes,” Griffith explains. “It’s done in a university setting, it is a huge benefit and accessible to all students in the community.”
The Farm at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital employs Dan Bair as the only paid staff, leaving a lot of responsibilities and weeds for him. Throughout the summer, individuals to community and civic groups call to volunteer their time. There are also student interns participating in the public health department community rotation from the Dietetic Program through the University of Michigan.
Volunteers can work on nutrition education, administration details or special projects. And lots of weeding. Students from Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Central Michigan universities have volunteered time, and Bair welcomes WCC students, staff and faculty to volunteer with the Farm, just across the street from the main college campus.
Another community program in the area, Growing Hope, advertises on its volunteer information page opportunities to get dirty or stay clean.
“At Growing Hope, our main focus is to increase healthy food access,” Arika Lycan, outreach manager, said. “For some, that could mean growing their own food in a backyard garden.”
Teaching community members how to garden requires volunteer time and effort for its success. Machiele feels her own volunteer service gives her new perspective and a break from her work at WCC and gives her something to look forward to.
“There’s a chance to try out new skills,” Machiele said. “There’s less pressure, and it’s more supportive.”
The opportunities for networking while volunteering is valuable, despite social media networking spots such as LinkedIn and Facebook, Machiele explains, but it is the face-to-face interactions that are the most effective connections for individuals to get jobs.
College denies charges by former employees of multiple contractors, mismanagement in Marketing Department
BY ADRIAN HEDDEN & BEN SOLIS |
Managing Editor & Editor
Despite statements from Washtenaw Community College’s Marketing department that its recent multi-media advertising campaigns used only in-house talent, sources close to the college have come forward to refute such claims.
Contrary to previous statements by Vice President of Advancement Wendy Lawson and Executive Director of Marketing Annessa Carlisle, given to reporters and printed in the last issue of The Voice, the college’s newest billboard and Web campaigns have been 100 percent outsourced, former employees say.
According to former web developer Patrick Springstubbe, College President Rose Bellanca sat down with all of Information Technology and Web Services last year, saying she would not outsource IT, as in past experiences.
But Stringstubbe said he and others were doubtful.
“The fact that she had to say, ‘I want to put to bed the rumors about me outsourcing or planning on outsourcing IT, or any department,’ is a bad sign that she might do it,” he said.
Stringstubbe said that the decision to outsource is typical of Carlisle’s penchant for seeking unnecessary outside assistance while denying the contributions of her own staff.
“The more she (Carlisle) got established, the more that (outsourcing) happened,” he said. “All of that could have been done by me or Jason (Withrow, Internet professional instructor). All Annessa knows how to do is work with vendors. If we didn’t like a piece of what we were doing or what they were doing, we’d say so.
“She didn’t like that.”
Other sources have further refuted that the college’s recent billboard and television campaigns weren’t successful at all. Another former employee said that fewer than 10 people visited the college’s “landing page” over the summer from an advertisement on Ann Arbor Public Schools’ website.
Carlisle admitted that few people were visiting the URLs listed on various media campaigns, but she said it was a learning experience for her department and its new staff.
Sources said the poor performance followed the billboard and movie trailer efforts as well, and added that no official analysis was done for the campaigns.
Stringstubbe explained that the advertisements were in fact being monitored, nullifying the source’s claim, but despite the department’s best effort, the overall message was not being received.
He also said that assignments given to Web services to create were rushed due to poor management in the Marketing Department.
“When they came up with a ‘big idea,’ they’d sit on it for weeks, and then out of nowhere ask you to complete the task in two days,” he said. “Those particular videos were one-week projects: scriptwriting, casting, scouting, shooting and editing.
“Other schools that I know of who have video campaigns take about month to do everything.”
Sources also warned that Carlisle and the newly hired Director of Web Services Bryan Freeman intend to further outsource the departments, despite struggling with past contractors.
Stringstubbe explained that private contractors were subsequently hired for the movie theater and high school campaigns. He said that company was Sunny Media – a claim that Carlisle denied.
Sunny Media, she said, was only used for smaller text-message campaigns because the school did not have the technology to complete them on its own.
Carlisle did confirm that outside companies were contracted, but only for advertising space. Sunny Media was also brought in to facilitate the brainstorming sessions last year that resulted in WCC’s current campaign and tagline.
Another company, Uproar Communications, was contracted, she said, for an audit of the school’s website last fall, which sources said returned little new results. The previous audit cost $30,000, yet marketing could not confirm the cost of the Uproar-assisted audit.
Carlisle said that the budget for WCC’s website is an operating cost and doesn’t show up in any documentation.
She could not provide an estimate, when asked by reporters.
“Other than salaries, there’s no cost for a server,” Carlisle said. “I don’t know what the cost is to host the website. When I took this job (in July 2012), they said, ‘Here’s your team, you get Web Services.’ I’m not trying to build an empire.
“And I’m not interested in tearing everything down and having a website that will blow everyone away.”
But other sources have explained that very little decision-making, in fact originates from Carlisle’s office, and that Wendy Lawson makes more decisions than she acknowledges.
They said that Lawson is a part of most of the college’s decision-making, and that even the abrupt firing of Vice President of Instruction Stuart Blacklaw came primarily from Lawson’s office.
Lawson’s role with the college grew when former Executive Director of Public Relations and Marketing Catherine Smillie left the college last year.
But Stringstubbe still worries whether or not the college’s “other president” can be trusted. He left the college last February when, after voicing concerns about marketing’s decision making, he found himself transferred to Information Systems.
Carlisle points to Stringstubbe’s denied application for director of Web Services – along with unfounded paranoia surrounding the outside contracts – as the reason he left.
BY ADRIAN HEDDEN |
Web Services contractor Uproar Communications provided Washtenaw Community College with several hypothetical recommendations last year for the school’s website. Most comments related to the school’s Web content being located on two separate servers.
“A technical analysis shows the site is broken and misfiring, and layered with archaic and undefined databases,” Uproar reported. “Content resides on multiple servers, creating architecture and design inconsistencies which negatively impact the user experience and branding.
“College’s goal to migrate content onto one server has not been met due to challenges stemming from staffing and work load issues. Inconsistencies will persist until this goal is achieved.”
Uproar recommended that the college switch to a content management system to take some of the burden off of Web Services. According to former WCC web developer Patrick Stringstubbe, the college’s website will soon be shifting into the new system, requiring individual departments to update their own information, rather than working directly with Web Services.
He said the system will be adapted to hide costs.
“The reason they want to go to content management is because it allows collaboration within the departments but hides the real cost of the website,” Stringstubbe said.
Executive Director of Marketing Annessa Carlisle said that a content management system was being considered but is not set in stone. That consideration might take place in the next three years.
BY MICHAEL J. HLYWA |
Unicorns, leprechauns, and scholarships: three things most students discount as the stuff of dreams.
Whether it’s because they think they’re not smart enough, their parents make too much money, or the competition is just too strenuous, even the students who do believe in scholarships often think them too elusive to bother with.
But WCC’s director of financial aid, Lori Trapp, encourages students to have faith.
“They exist!” Trapp said. “Watch and look at the website. We do put a lot of time and effort into keeping it as current as we can and as quick as we can. There are a lot of opportunities out there.”
Indeed, Washtenaw’s website lists seven different scholarship opportunities, two of which are reserved for students with disabilities. The WCC Foundation alone awards more than $500,000 to more than 1,000 students annually.
So Trapp wants students to watch their email accounts closely for different scholarship eligibility notifications.
“We’re going to be sending an email to students who we think will be eligible (based on their GPA at the end of the winter semester). So we’ll be sending that email out probably this week or next.”
But before filling out scholarship applications, Trapp recommends that students do some prep work.
Start by filling out a FAFSA, she says. A lot of organizations limit their scholarships to those who demonstrate financial need, and completing a FAFSA facilitates that.
Prepare a brief essay. Most opportunities require students to write a statement, usually 250 words in length, that demonstrates the student’s qualification. The point is for applicants to concisely and thoughtfully describe themselves and promote their achievements, particularly their school work and extracurricular activities.
Collect letters of recommendation. Many scholarship applications need at least one – some require two. Students should request current letters from instructors, employers or other community leaders who are willing to vouch for the students’ academic performance, community involvement, and leadership qualities.
Secure transcript copies. Some scholarships also demand proof of students’ scholastic aptitudes.
Finally, Trapp says, check the deadlines. Some have already expired, while others are still accepting applications – but not for much longer.
Applying for scholarships is a process that Spanish instructor Nancy Ferrario is very familiar with. She helped all three of her children find and earn enough scholarship money to get them through college. Ferrario admits it takes work, but the pay-off can be significant.
“A big piece of it is doing the homework,” Ferrario said.
There are tons of scholarships out there, Ferrario explains. You just have to know where to look for them. Some “mom and pop” scholarships, for example, aren’t listed online, so you may have to hit the books. Once you start researching, though, you’ll discover there are scholarships for just about everyone – even some for seemingly ordinary traits.
Explaining how her daughter was awarded money for writing about her heritage, Ferrario said, “She just had to write an essay about what it’s like to be an Italian-American. Come on. How hard is that?”
Another scholarship repository, available to many of Washtenaw’s brightest students, comes through Phi Theta Kappa, the international honors society. Liberal arts student Zaeem Zafar, 23, of Canton, is vice president of leadership and scholarships for WCC’s chapter of PTK. He explains that PTK’s scholarship opportunities are only available to members, but the one-time $85 membership fee is a bargain based on what you get.
“There’s about $37 million in scholarships just for Phi Theta Kappa members,” Zafar explained. “And they range from a whole lot of schools. There’s thousands of scholarships out there. And some of them range for just a couple hundred dollars, some range for $10,000-$15,000.”
And Zafar knows first-hand that being a PTK member opens doors at prominent universities.
“For example, Columbia University came here for the college fair,” Zafar said. “The first thing she asked me was, ‘Are you a member of Phi Theta Kappa?’
“I said, ‘Yeah, I am.’ Then she started telling me about all these different scholarship opportunities just for Phi Theta Kappa members to the school. So there are exclusive scholarships to certain schools reserved just for Phi Theta Kappa members.”
PTK members certainly enjoy access to some otherwise unavailable scholarship money. In fact, says Zafar, a local PTK member recently won the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.
According to the foundation’s website, jkcf.org, “The Foundation provides up to $30,000 per year to each of approximately 60 deserving students selected annually, making it the largest private scholarship for two-year and community college transfer students in the country.”
So there is clearly free money available to those willing to put in some hard work and perseverance. It seems that finding a scholarship, then, is more about looking online, at school, or in your community and less about looking “somewhere over the rainbow.”
BY ADRIAN HEDDEN |
Washtenaw officials say they hope a nationwide search for a new vice president of Instruction will conclude next year. The college is seeking a successor to Stuart Blacklaw, who was fired last month.
“There’s going to be a search next year with the idea that they will have a permanent vice president of Instruction by the fall of 2014,” said Bill Abernethy, dean of Humanities and Social Sciences who has been serving the position on an interim basis.
Abernethy was unsure if he will be included in the search. He was unable to make time to sit down with reporters for any further comments.
But despite the anger and frustration surrounding Blacklaw’s termination, the faculty union is hopeful that Abernethy will lead all involved into better communication for a brighter future for Washtenaw Community College.
“Although faculty clearly stated our disapproval of when, how, and why former VP Dr. Stuart Blacklaw was fired, the appointment of Dr. Bill Abernethy to fill that position as interim, I think, has been well received,” said biology instructor David Wooten. “Dr. Abernethy has been committed to this school for years, has been positive in making change, is competent, and most importantly to us is a ‘known variable.’”
Other instructors point to Abernethy’s past as a respected English instructor and dean of the department. They hope that his reputation for being fair and direct with his staff will translate into an open and fair administration.
“When he was a faculty member of the English department, he worked with our basic writers and was a clear and patient communicator with our developmental students,” said English instructor and vice president to the Washtenaw Community College Education Association Maryam Barrie. “As a dean, I’ve found him to be reliably fair and supportive to the faculty in his division.”
And president of the union Jennifer Baker, who has worked with Abernethy on a number of projects for WCC’s curriculum committee, looks forward to working with a VP she can support, allowing time to tell if his appointment was in fact the right decision.
“I’ve worked with Bill on a number of projects over the years and found him very good to work with,” Baker said. “Was it a good choice? We’ll see. I think he’ll do a good job in his new role. I will support him.”
Chief negotiator to WCCEA David Fitzpatrick, a history instructor, is hopeful that recent problems in communication between WCC faculty and administration may be remedied by Abernethy’s experience and understanding.
“I think if anyone can facilitate a solution to the problem, he’s the one to do it,” Fitzpatrick said. “He understands our concerns and hopefully can work with the president. It’s not war, it’s not combat, it’s not battle; we problem-solve, and we hope that can continue.”
Washtenaw ranks favorably compared with other schools
BY ADRIAN HEDDEN |
While students at Washtenaw prepare for next year’s tuition hike – and the subsequent blow to their wallets – the school’s administration looks to continue to truncate other student expenses.
“We’re right in the middle of the pack and certainly not anywhere near the highest in terms of the cost, total cost of college for the number of credit hours. And that’s a good thing,” said former Interim CFO Chuck Thomas at the Board of Trustees annual spring retreat last month.
“Some of the colleges will charge quite a bit in excess of their tuition rate and hide it in the form of fees, and Washtenaw is quite low in that regard,” he told the board.
As WCC remains moderate in comparison to other schools as far as extra class fees are concerned, according to the survey of Michigan community colleges presented at the retreat, officials contend that the school has maintained a philosophy of eradicating the extra fees.
“Washtenaw has historically been, our board has been what I call a fee-adverse institution,” said Vice President of Student Services Linda Blakey. “They do not like having or adding fees to anything.
“Our board has really tried to keep tuition the lowest possible for students. They are not supportive of having a lot of fees.”
WCC does asses a fee for ceramics classes and a printing fee for photography, Blakey acknowledged. But she looks to vocational and lab-based programs, using heavy amounts of physical materials, as having the most costs associated.
“All that stuff costs,” Blakey said of class materials. “But with all the materials that get used, there’s no fees attached to those classes here. If you started looking at vocationals, fees will be much more variable.”
Blakey asserted that despite lab and material fees assessed at other schools, WCC does not charge extra for material-heavy programs such as chemistry and welding.
“There’s a lot of schools where if you’re taking any kind of lab class, there’s a lab fee. It might be $20 or $30,” Blakey said. “All the stuff costs; we don’t have any kind of lab fees. For a lot of schools, there’s a lot of fees attached to those classes.”
According to the survey, the total fees calculated ranks WCC at number 14 of the 28 institutions surveyed and found to have similar enrollment.
The average total tuition rate calculated in the survey for a full-time, 15-credit student at WCC was $1,590. Despite lower tuition rates at other schools such as Lansing Community College with a rate of just $81 per credit hour, when added fees are assessed the overall cost can climb to well over $2,000.
The total cost of attendance at Lansing is $2,176 for its average full-time student at 20 credit hours, 134 percent of its tuition rate.
Blakey points to some community colleges that charge students tuition by contact hour rather than credit hour, as instructors are paid by contact hour. A class like welding, she said, could pose eight contact hours and just three credit hours.
WCC only charges by credit hour.
“A lot of community colleges have transitioned and charged by the contact hour,” Blakey said. “That can make sense because faculty are paid by the contact hour.
“But it makes a huge difference for the student.”
With tuition at $89 for in-district students in 2012, added costs brought the average rate per credit hour to $106, 119.1 percent of the actual tuition rate students at WCC were charged. The rate marked a 3.9 percent increase from 2011.
According to the survey, the total fees calculated puts WCC in the middle as far as cost over tuition among other schools in the area. But despite the college’s status, trustees hope that there are costs students pay, in addition to tuition, that can be cut down further to make education more affordable.
“A dollar is a dollar, whether you raise it on a textbook or on tuition,” said Trustee Patrick McLean. “I really hope we’ll go back and discuss class costs that go beyond tuition. I think there’s some real opportunity for savings there, and I think we should take advantage.”
Kira Turner hold up the T-shirt she created for the Clothesline Project inside the Community Room at Washtenaw Community College.
Words and Photos BY KELLY BRACHA |
Kira Turner learned in the most difficult way what love isn’t.
Turner was sexually assaulted by her mother’s boyfriend when she was very young. The experience left her at a loss of understanding love – and understanding herself.
“Because I was so young, being an innocent 6-year-old, to be subjected to such graphic things screws up your whole perception on how you’re supposed to be treated,” Turner said. “I suffered with self-identity. Who was I in the world? What was my value?”
Nearly a decade later, Turner cried over the incident for the first time.
“You live in constant fear, which I still do, wondering if you’re going to see this person again,” said Turner, now 21 and a liberal arts student at Washtenaw Community College. “When I really started to express it to people, it came out through my tears.”
Individuals like Turner are what prompted The Clothesline Project, a program started more than 10 years ago to address the issue of violence against women by expressing their emotions by decorating a shirt that is then hung to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem.
Kira Turner, 21, liberal arts major from Canton, wrote on her T-shirt the story of her sexual assault and encouraging words for herself and other victims.
This year was WCC’s first time partaking in the Clothesline Project. More than 20 students showed theirsupport by decorating T-shirts.
It was an emotional event for everyone involved.
“It can sit in your system so long, it can kill you as a person,” Turner said. “All you have to do is find someone who will listen. It doesn’t have to be someone who’ll give you a solution, just listen. That’s the first step.”
Turner decorated her shirt with her story, told with encouraging words.
“There might be someone walking around here who hasn’t said anything yet,” she said. “This could be their sign to speak about it. When you keep it in the dark, you’re keeping yourself in the dark.”
Ellison Matthews, sitting beside Turner in the Community Room of the Student Center, also shared his story.
After being sexually assaulted, Matthews was left confused about himself and his sexual identity.
“What I learned to be love was a family member coming over and having me perform sexual acts for them,” he said. “Nobody was around to stop it.”
Matthews believes that he didn’t go through the experience for himself, but to help others who have.
“By telling your story, you’re able to help someone going through it deal with it better,” he said. “I feel that sharing it and talking about it helps.”
That’s the point of the Clothesline Project, organizers said.
“There are a couple of students who personally experienced sexual assault and are using this as a voice,” said Cheryl Finley, case manager in WCC’s Student Resource and Women’s Center. “A lot of students came just to be a part of it.”
The Community Room became a closet full of T-shirts with messages of compassion and heartbreaking stories created by students and staff.
“It’s really emotional reading the shirts. The project has exceeded my expectations with this being the first time we’ve had this here at WCC,” Finley said. “If we touch one person, it’s worth it. I see us doing this again next year.”
For both Turner and Matthews, the project was an opportunity to share their story in hopes that others affected will begin to seek help and talk about it.
“Saying what happened to us, there might be a student here, or a family member, or a friend of a victim or even someone who has done the assaulting,” Turner said. “They can see this and become more aware that it is a problem and that it is OK to tell somebody.”
Students showcase hard work in digital media arts exhibit
BY KELLY BRACHA AND CHARLES MANLEY |
Staff Writer & Staff Photographer
It is known as both the most exciting and excruciatingly stressful time of the year – the 2013 Digital Media Arts Exhibit – in which many of the projects created throughout the semester by the graphic design, photography, 3D animation and Internet professional students are showcased for the public to see and enjoy.
Kyle Johnson has been working on his photography project for more than a year and spent much of last week mounting his photos for the upcoming exhibit.
“I started taking the photos in September of last year,” said Johnson, 24, a photography major from Wyandotte. “It’s not as hectic as I thought it would be, but it’s getting to the end, and I’m starting to feel a little stressed.”
Johnson will be presenting his black and white conceptual environmental portraits printed on metallic paper, which give the images a captivating silver metallic sheen.
“I’m more nervous about the critiques,” Johnson said. “I don’t expect it to go great. I’m not an optimist.”
For photography major Rachael Curry, the stress levels are increasing as well. Curry has been working on her dance portraits since January, and still has two photographs she needs to shoot to include in the exhibit.
“I’m really excited to show my work,” said Curry, 20, from Ann Arbor. “I’m going to downtown Ann Arbor this afternoon to shoot studio dance.”
Like Johnson, Curry’s nerves are more focused on the reviews given prior to the exhibit.
“We need to show up at 10 a.m. and get our reviews before the actual exhibit,” Curry said. “I’m just worried about getting everything done in time at this point.”
Kristine Willimann, digital media arts professor, understands all too well the nerves of the students prepping their final portfolios.
“It’s always a really exciting time of year. It’s very rewarding to see the students get to this point,” Willimann said. “It hasn’t been without painful moments, though. The biggest issue is always time management.
“Trying to juggle life, work and school and still coming out with the best possible product is no easy task.”
For those who successfully navigate the rush and lulls, preparation is the common denominator. Photography student Charlotte Manning, 26, of Ann Arbor says the trick is timing.
“It was busier last week, but I’m already a little ahead,” Manning said. She was nearly done with a small book she’d created for a graphic design course.
Graphic design student Dan Brown cut a finger while working on his project. Production Center manager Julia Gleich says she calls security now, after seeing how quickly they’ve responded to the two or three cuts that happen each year.
“They handle anything my Band-Aids can’t take care of,” Gleich said.
Students participating in the event are given the opportunity to display their work from their most recent creations to projects they have created years prior.
“Most of them are perfectionists, as they should be in their field, they go and make revisions and then revise those revisions,” Willimann said.
During the last few days of the semester, the Gunder Myran garden-level, home of the photography and graphic design classes, becomes a frenzied and frantic mess of students rushing to complete their projects.
“It’s pretty busy! They’re all crammed in their like sardines,” Willimann said. “We stay open for extra hours during the week and even the weekend.”
The exhibit also gives a unique opportunity for local employers to see the talent and quality that comes out of the programs offered at WCC.
“It’s a way for area employers to look in a really broad scope at the talent that’s out there,” she said. “Several students are sometimes immediately picked up for work.”
The exhibit is set to take place on May 1 in the Morris Lawrence building from 5-7 p.m. and is open to the public.
“We often get comments from reviewers that also review for other four year schools and they are thoroughly impressed with the quality of the work and ask how we do this at a two year school,” said Willimann. “It’s the quality of instruction we have here and the glorious facilities that are unmatched.
“When you put that in combination, you crank out good stuff.”