Fresh paint and and upgraded facilities welcomed almost 100 students Thursday to the University’s Trotter Multicultural Center.
In January, the University allocated $300,000 for renovations at Trotter Center after the University’s Black Student Union lobbied the administration for upgrades, among other demands. The building hosted its first open house Monday after construction projects were completed over the summer.
“Although it emerged out of the Black action student movements of the 70s, it has evolved in its vision to cater to all students, without losing sight of the importance of signaling students of color,” said Rackham student David Green.
The Trotter walls were newly painted in vibrant gold and brown tones, the wood floor was covered with a patterned rug and colorful, abstract paintings lined every side of the room. The beauty of the building did not come cheap.
Rackham student Portia Hemphill said someone who had not been to Trotter before the renovation would not understand the drastic difference in the décor.
“If you looked at it before you would know there’s a huge difference,” Hemphill said. “This room is much more warm and inviting, there are new pictures to make the room feel like a safe haven, a safe space, a warm, inviting climate.”
Green said the renovation is not purely aesthetic, but also of people involved in the center and minds leading it.
“Not only do we have a new director, not only do we have a new programming board, but we have a new philosophy and a new mission,” Green said. “To always think about what the students need and how we can best meet those needs as a way to fulfill the promise of the Michigan experience.”
Hemphill and Green are members of an inaugural committee, the Trotter Programming Board, a team in charge of executing events for diversity. Green said the board came about as a result of a number of crises faced by students of color last year.
“The BBUM campaign was a part of that, the tuition hikes, immigration reform,” Green said. “All of those things coalesced to provide the impetus to create this board.”
Although the Trotter building has now been renovated, Simpson said she is doing everything in her power to pursue the long time goal of Trotter having a building closer to the heart of Central Campus. She said the current Trotter is meant to be a safe setting for students in the interim.
“I’ve been at the University for 17 years,” Simpson said. “I’ve been firmly committed for 17 years to there being a multicultural center on Central Campus.”
Simpson said while her light skin color caused concern when she was appointed as director of Trotter, she dispelled these doubts by emphasizing the diversity of her life experiences.
“I’m also Spanish. I’m also a lesbian. I also grew up working class,” she said. “What I know is that, while I am perceived in that way, there’s a lot more that makes me who I am than the color of my skin.”
University President Mark Schlissel and E. Royster Harper, vice president of student life, were both present at the event. Green said he expects Schlissel to work extremely well with Trotter.
“I believe in him 100 percent,” he said.