Trotter Center hosts final open forum for new facility

By Emma Kerr, Daily Staff Reporter
Published December 2, 2014

After months of conversation, the fourth and final workshop of pre-planning for the new Trotter Multicultural Center was held Tuesday night.

Members of the Black Student Union, architects for the new center and University officials have hosted these workshops to better understand the needs of the community and the students. Program organizers aim to present their findings to the University’s Board of Regents in the next few weeks. The presentation will include possible site locations to either construct a new building or renovate a current facility.

The planners named the Michigan League, Michigan Union, residence halls, parking lots, unused land spaces and other locations as possible sites for the Trotter Center.

However, a number of students expressed concerns about losing the individuality and identity of Trotter if it were to be placed in an existing building.

LSA senior Shaina Shetty, director of the South Asian Awareness Network, said she is worried that students’ input will not be heavily included in the new Trotter Center.

“A constant concern is wondering if these things are going to turn into a reality,” Shetty said. “I really appreciate their transparency so far, and I really hope the administration continues to do that.”

While planners said they intend to present an array of options, including additional renovations for the current Trotter Center, students favored locations closest to the Diag, libraries and other high-traffic locations — even if that means renovating a building that already exists.

“I think it’s really important that we have our own building that is independent,” Shetty said.

Students asked about the functionality of rooms in the proposed Trotter Center, including questions about dance studio space and if incense and candles could be burned. Architects from Hanbury, Evans, Wright, Vlattas + Company, a firm from Norfolk, Virginia working with the University to build the new Center, said students have repeatedly raised concerns about practice space for dance groups.

The architects said they hope to have a multipurpose room, which would accommodate for the needs of a dance group.

The proposed spaces include a wellness room, an outside porch, a living room with a fireplace, a reflection room and a ballroom or similar open space.

Trotter Center planners have used a survey completed by 900 students and community members to inform their decisionmaking. Site planners have researched the locations students most frequent to determine the location of campus center and how to best reach students.

Considerations for choosing a location for the new Trotter Center include expediting the occupancy date as well as finding the best, most cost-effective venue and a stand-alone building easily accessed by campus tour groups. Planners also prefer that each floor hold at least 300 people in what will likely be a three-story facility.

LSA junior Thamara Subramanian said student input has been present during every step of the process, though architects are still in the pre-planning phase and it may be years before the new Trotter Center is open.

“The planning committee has been really open to all ideas, regardless of attainability and giving us background on what is attainable,” Subramanian said. “It is hard to picture things when we won’t be here for when it actually becomes a reality, but I think it’s really worth it to eventually see your input be put into action."