After shutting down last April for summer renovations, the William Monroe Trotter Multicultural Center is set to reopen its doors this Saturday after undergoing a facelift and preparing to accommodate more students.

The renovations, which were prompted by demands from the now-defunct student-interest group Student Voices in Action and the Michigan Student Assembly in the spring of last year, focused on improving the infrastructure and interior appearance of the facility.

“The renovations are the result of students and their activism,” said Patricia Aqui Pacania, director of the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs.

“We tried to think of everything students might need, and hopefully this is a step toward serving students better.”

Although major structural renovations, such as plumbing, electrical wiring and the construction of additional bathrooms were finished in early September, Pacania said more time was needed to complete the building’s interior.

Other improvements include increased handicap accessibility, cappuccino bars, electronic equipment upgrades and new carpeting, paint and furniture.

In addition, as requested by the Trotter House Advisory Council – composed of students, faculty members and Trotter staff – the center is also equipped with Ethernet and wireless Internet capabilities.

In 2004, when students were rallying for improvements to the multicultural center in response to a MESA budget cut, the University allocated $800,000 for the renovation project and an additional $200,000 for immediate repairs.

Trotter House, which is most often used for student group meetings, informal gatherings and rehearsals, also hopes to provide a variety of new educational programming for the various multicultural communities.

“The staffs of MESA and Trotter House work together to develop student organizations and student leaders,” Pacania said.

“We believe Trotter House is a facility that can bring together different members of the community.”

One such program is the Student Success Program, which aims to offer a holistic approach to help students develop life skills, Pacania said. The program provides academic and financial advice, health awareness and tips on time management.

Other programs in the planning stage focus on the issues of bias, racism, oppression and inclusion.

Edward Burnett, facilities manager of Trotter House, said he feels the University responded well to students’ demands, which he feels were very reasonable considering the usage of the facility.

“I’ve been here 11 years, and there was a definite need for renovations,” Burnett said.

Burnett added that he expects students to be shocked at the drastic changes to the center.

“I am very pleased with the way (the renovations) turned out, and I can’t wait to see the reactions of the students,” Burnett said. “I think they will be pleasantly surprised.”

In the future, Burnett hopes Trotter House will be able to make further improvements, such as the installation of elevators and an addition to give the building more space.

“We want the center to be very student friendly,” Burnett said.

LSA senior and Korean Students Association member Mary Hong said she believes the renovations will increase the center’s appeal to students and student groups.

“(The center) seemed outdated compared to the rest of campus,” Hong said. “Hopefully the renovations will help people realize how nice the building actually is.”

Hong added that she feels Trotter House is a good campus resource that is often underestimated.

“I don’t think people realize how many offices are inside (the facility), and a lot of organizations don’t know how to take advantage of that,” she said.

As a result of the renovations, Trotter House will now host 12 student organizations. Currently, only three groups – the Gospel Chorale, the Korean Students Association and the Asociacion Latina Alcanzando Sueno – are based out of the center, but other student groups have the opportunity to apply starting in November.

Students and other members of the community will have the opportunity to see the completed renovations this Saturday at the Trotter Community Festival. The festival, which replaces the center’s Taste of Culture event, is intended to provide an environment conducive to cultural exchange and interaction.

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