When students walk into the William Monroe Trotter House, they
notice stained carpets, chipping paint and missing handicap
features. But students who attend activities in the
University’s 33-year-old multicultural center say they hope a
new renovation plan will make such features a thing of the
The Trotter House — which is located on Washtenaw Avenue
and attracts more than 18,000 students yearly to activities ranging
from multicultural conferences to tutoring services — is
drawing up plans to reconstruct parts of the building using
University funds received over the summer.
The University has set aside $800,000 for infrastructure repairs
and $200,000 for immediate facility needs, such as a new furnace
that was recently installed. In addition, University President Mary
Sue Coleman donated $50,000 toward building repairs.
The house will be modernized to better serve the needs of the
students while at the same time preserving its original
architecture, said Patricia Aqui Pacania, director of the Office of
Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs.
House managers have already begun to examine all of its
facilities to assess which ones need to be renovated or
reconstructed. Detailed plans of these renovations will be
announced once the assessments are completed in November, said
Edward Burnett, facilities manager and program coordinator for
The house’s disrepair earned attention last year when a
group called Student Voices in Action protested against the
University’s cuts to the MESA budget, calling on the
University to provide funding for repairs to the Trotter House.
The Michigan Student Assembly also held several meetings at the
house to highlight the building’s dilapidated condition.
During MSA elections earlier this year, students approved a $1 fee
increase to fund the building’s renovation, although that
money is no longer needed and was not taken out of student
LSA senior Stephanie Chang, a member of Student Voices in
Action, said the planned renovations would be an improvement over
the house’s current conditions.
“It’s a good step, but I haven’t seen where
the money is going,” Chang said.
House managers plan to begin reconstruction and renovations in
2005. Trotter House will be closed during the work. Managers are
still looking for a temporary location for the student group
offices currently housed there and for the weekly multicultural
events held at the house. The expected completion of the project is
The $200,000 assigned for facility needs will remain unspent
until reconstruction blueprints are completed. The money is likely
to be used for painting, furniture and landscaping, depending on
the advice of the soon-to-be formed Trotter Advisory Council, Aqui
In addition to the money granted for building repairs, Trotter
House has received $80,000 from the University to support its many
multicultural programs, as well as to fund new programs such as the
21st annual MESA Pow Wow, a forum to discuss minority issues and a
luncheon focusing on race and gender issues.
Rachkam student Roxanna Duntley-Matos, director of Asociacion
Latina Alcanzando Suenos and of Latinos Unidos, two organizations
serving the local Latino community, said she would like to see some
of the money invested in keeping the Trotter House building open
during the summer. In the previous summers it had been closed due
to lack of funding. “During the summer we have to find other
places to have sessions — sometimes in parking lots,”
LSA freshman Magaly Grimaldo previously attended a barbecue for
engineers at the Trotter House sponsored by University group
Assisting Latinos to Maximize Achievement. “(Here) you are
able to learn about others’ views and your views on (ethnic)
backgrounds,” she said.
Grimaldo added that she believes the renovations are important
because the house “shows what Michigan has to
Both Burnett and Aqui Pacania said they are looking forward to
the new and improved building. “We really appreciate all the
support from students and the support of the University,”
Aqui Pacania said.