Students and Faculty Protest

Decision to Relocate the Learning Resource Center Across Broadway Causes Backlash


Savanna Eickerman

(From left to right) EvCC faculty, Mike VanQuickenborne, Robert Bertoldi, Heather Jean Uhl and Miki Aspree display their picket signs at the LRC protest on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at the Index greenspace.

Staff and students journeyed around the newly renovated Index green-space on Wednesday, Nov. 20, with picket signs in hand to show a unified front in opposition of the 2018 vote to relocate the Learning Resource Center (LRC) to the east side of North Broadway at College Plaza.

In attendance of the Oct. 22 Board of Trustee (BOT) meeting was Philosophy instructor and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Union President, Mike VanQuickenborne. “I really encourage the board to reconsider their decision… we [the staff] feel that the placement is going to be detrimental to the students ability to succeed at this college and their safety when crossing Broadway,” said VanQuickenborne.

The BOT previously approved the relocation 4-1 back in 2018. Since then, many students, staff and faculty have voiced their disapproval of the boards decision.

Signing a petition outside of the Index greenspace stood welding student, Joe Venable. “If they [BOT] put the library across broadway it’s way too far, and since I’m an AMTEC student that’s saying a lot,” said Venable. He continued to add that unless a person is getting a degree that is involved with AMTEC, than they have absolutely no reason to journey that far away from the main campus.

Savanna Eickerman
Students and staff march on Nov. 20, protesting the Board of Trustee’s decision to move EvCC’s Learning Resource Center (LRC) across Broadway.

Robert “Bob” Bertoldi, a full-time tenured faculty librarian and part-time World Language instructor spoke with a similar tone at the BOT meeting. “… the goal of the whole thing was to consolidate the services and make them more accessible to them [students] and improve their studies on campus.”

“Now, ironically we have taken this whole container further away from where their lives take place,” said Bertoldi.

Library Circulation Desk employee, Dana Brewer, feels like the boards decision isn’t in the best interest of the college. “I feel like it’s more of a political move on the part of the Board of Trustees,” said Brewer.

After interviewing countless staff, students and faculty, one theme seemed to stick out. No one feels like the BOT values their opinion.

“We [staff] have brought up so many different points to the Board of Trustees on why we think the Index site is preferable and they say ‘we hear you’ but they’ve never given us any answer to any of the points we’ve given,” said Faculty Senate President and Math instructor, Karen Linton. “They say ‘we’ll work on that; we’ll think about that’ but they can’t seem to address any of our issues.”

Bertoldi had similar feelings. “I think it’s disingenuous to have student success at the top of our mission statement and do what we’re doing. I’m sorry, the two just don’t jive. I would love for someone to explain it to me how that fits, and the logic in it.” EvCC student, Juno Valencia projected his discomfort in the situation. “If the board of trustees doesn’t take into account the people they serve, if they don’t listen to us and think our opinions matter, what does that really say about EvCC?,” said Valencia. “They should really think about who they’re serving and where they should be because right now the students are pissed off,”. Another student, Sam Koziol added, “The board isn’t listening to the faculty and students. They [students and faculty] are the ones who take the classes here. Why move it over there if everyone votes no?,” said Koziol.

One of the protest’s organizers and faculty librarian, Heather Jean Uhl has been very vocal on her feelings toward the BOT’s decision. Uhl previously served on the 2019 LRC pre-design committee and currently serves on the LRC design committee representing the library.

Savanna Eickerman
EvCC Librarian, Heather Jean Uhl, holding a sign encouraging the idea to build the new LRC where Index once stood, which is currently being made into a green-space.

While wearing a long black dress she presented her case to the board. “We are asking that the Board of Trustees reconsider this vote to re-open evaluation of the index quad,” said Uhl. She went further and reintroduced a poll that was previously presented to the board where students were asked if they were for or against the LRC moving to College Plaza. From that poll, 80% of students and 79% of staff opposed the move to the new location and 85% of faculty support the Index site over the plaza. “I ask you now. How have we given equal voice to the primary users of the LRC when the vote to site the LRC at College Plaza stands at opposition?” said Uhl.

Many other people brought up how difficult the trip to the new LRC will be for people with disabilities. “Someone that is in a wheelchair has to go down a hill on a pretty skinny sidewalk… Think about the people that don’t have access to electric wheelchairs, they would have to find someone to push them back up the hill,” said Valencia. Bertoldi doesn’t think it’s very thoughtful in general to move students further from each other, especially people with disabilities. “All students, but in particular students with disabilities are going to be at a disadvantage,” said Valencia.

The BOT have mentioned the installation of a pedestrian bridge over Broadway. According to the Learning Resource Center Project page on EvCC’s webpage, the college has collaborated with the City of Everett, Washington State University, members of the state legislature and the chair of the Senate Transportation committee. They have also been in contact with members of the House Capital Budget Committee. The page stated that the project was not funded in the latest round of capital project requests. Collaboration with the City of Everett during the short session will begin in January.   

The decision to move the LRC is one that will affect the next 50 years of students at EvCC. The proposed 65,000 square foot Learning Resource Center is scheduled to break ground beginning Oct. 1, 2022.