BY TAYLOR ROBINSON
- WCCEA president addresses board
David Fitzpatrick, president of the Washtenaw Community College Education Association, addressed the board, particularly concerning the Higher Learning Commission’s new guidelines for faculty. For several months, there has been discussion about how to best support the faculty who need to return to college to obtain the necessary credits.
The guidelines include faculty needing a degree that is at least one degree higher than the classes they teach. Because some classes are considered university level, instructors must have a master’s degree in the area they teach, or 18 credit hours.
Fitzpatrick noted many thanks to his negotiating team and others involved in the decision making.
“Everybody on both teams did a fantastic job,” Fitzpatrick said.
He announced that earlier in the week, an agreement was reached about reimbursement and support for the full-time faculty who will need to return to school. The letter of agreement stated that faculty will be able to attend any institution, but will be reimbursed at Eastern Michigan University’s tuition rate. To remain eligible for the agreement, the faculty member must receive at least a B in the course.
“That is as good an agreement as I could have hoped for,” Fitzpatrick said.
- Public comments
Following Fitzpatrick’s speech, the board heard numerous public comments, mostly addressing having on-campus armed police officers, or student resource officers, beginning in July of this year.
While the board is still discussing this, and no final decisions have been made, interest in the conversation is increasing. Those who offered public comments had ranging opinions about either being in favor of or against the implementation of such officers.
Liz Orbits, from student support services, along with others in the department, think of the addition of SROs, or CROs, as an expansion of campus safety.
“We see CROs as another resource and tool in our community effort to ensure a safe learning and working environment,” Orbits said.
Michael David Bendor, a resident of Superior Township, shared concerns regarding the contract. Commenting that the goal is to have community policing, having officers who would essentially rotate would not achieve this, Bendor said.
“Their training is done by the sheriff’s department. They are supervised by the sheriff’s department. They won’t work for you, just like they don’t work for the supervisor in Superior Township. They work for the sheriff and have their own line of authority,” Bendor said.
Bendor says the $633,000 would be better spent on hiring more counselors who would “be much better able to serve the students than having an armed policeman….Being a taxpayer…I’ve supported you to provide educational services. If you divert a significant part of your revenue to providing police services, I think that’s going to be very confusing to a lot of us,” he said.
Stuart White, chair of Washtenaw Technical Middle College’s board, sent a letter to WCC President Rose Bellanca thanking them for their commitment to safety.
Students were also involved in the conversation, including 17-year-old Rosie Van Alsburg, the president of the political science club. She disagrees with moving forward with the contract and said, “I don’t think there are nearly enough students being consulted about this.”
Other students who spoke to the board were also in disagreement with the contact. Psychology instructor, Anne Garcia, discussed a study showing a correlation between an increase in aggression in the presence of a weapon.
Among the citizen participation were two other students, Austin Jackson and Joe Chapman, the vice president of the political science club. They spoke about banning the sale of single-use water bottles and how it would be less harmful to the environment. (SEE RELATED STORY https://www.washtenawvoice.com/2016/04/04/student-seeks-ban-sale-bottled-water-campus/
- Congresswoman Debbie Dingell will receive honorary associate degree
Each year the board awards an honorary associate degree and this year, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell will receive hers in community service. The criteria includes a “humanitarian who is committed to the democratic ideals of equal opportunity for all,” among contributing to the development and advancement of WCC as an institution. The board voted unanimously.
- Safety and security contract update
The board continues to negotiate the contract with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office. General Counsel Larry Barkoff and Vice President of Student and Academic Services Linda Blakey provided the update. Barkoff said they are establishing a review process and including the option for campus community members to file complaints in the event of CRO misconduct. Blakey says they continue to gather campus feedback.
“As noted in the public comments, the opinions on this issue are strong and varying,” Blakey said.
They anticipate having a presentation at the May meeting which will include the data they’ve gathered from campus community members. With the proposed safety and security contract, they will also entertain broader discussion and a potential vote.
During the board members’ comments, Trustee Dave DeVarti proposed the idea of postponing the vote until the fall semester. He would like to see a forum set up to gather more of the campus community’s opinions about the issue. The trustees will discuss this further at the May meeting.
- Approval of discontinued and new programs
The board voted to discontinue the following programs:
- Numerical control programming – certificate
- Machine tool technology – certificate
- Network security – advanced certificate
- Heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration – industrial trade – advanced certificate
The board voted to approve the following new programs:
- Introduction to manufacturing processes – certificate
- Iron workers pre-apprenticeship – certificate
- Welding and fabrication principles – certificate
- Mobile device programming – advanced certificate
- Welding technology – associate in applied science