Correction: The perpetrator of the arson fire in ‘87 was never confirmed. The Board of Trustees meeting is actually Tuesday, May 29th from 5:00 to 8:30 in Jackson Center, not 4:30 to 6:00 as previously stated.
There is a lot of heated discussion around campus about the potential location for the proposed Learning Resource Center (LRC), which will be comprised of a new library with the tutoring center, writing center, and eLearning services. Some students, staff and faculty feel like EvCC’s Board of Trustees, the key decision-makers for the college, have not heard their voices.
There has been demand for a new library since the current library was built in 1988. The prior library burned down in an arson fire in 1987. The current library was built as quickly as possible, which led to a library space that some consider to be flawed. “The [current] library sometimes feels like a bunker in the ground,” said Patrick Sisneros, the Vice President of College Services.
The state has approved funding to begin the design phase of the LRC project this summer. In order to do that, the college has to settle on the building site.
In order to meet the needs of an expanding campus, there is a current push to use the LRC as an opportunity to build across Broadway by the Washington State University Everett building, pushing EvCC’s boundaries to the east. “We can’t wait 30 years [to expand the college’s boundaries] because our enrollment will be 11,000 and we will be too congested,” said Sisneros. Current full-time enrollment is about 7,900.
It could be another 20 years before EvCC can secure funding for additional buildings east of Broadway. This is part of why there is an urgency on the administrative side to build there and expand.
Many students, staff and faculty are strongly opposed to this and, instead, want to put the LRC at the Index Hall lot, replacing the green space and current building. This location is where it was originally intended to be, according to the college’s master plan.
People are worried that building the LRC across the street will make it less convenient for students who need to use it. “I don’t think I would use the library at all if it was across the street,” said Kaytlin Chavez, an EvCC student.
The estimated walk to the projected location is anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes one-way from the main campus, depending on the starting point, weather and traffic.
“The location will affect the overall use of it,” said Clarie Calicdan, EvCC student. “If it’s across Broadway, then [millions are] wasted because the distance will deter students from using it.”
It is also an accessibility issue, some say. “That hill is not an easy hill,” said Marlene Barnes, a student who uses a walker. “People with disabilities are going to have a hard time.”
“Yes, that distance is a 15-minute walk; a walk that’s been clocked in by an able-bodied person when weather and traffic conditions are best,” said Heather Jean Uhl, an EvCC librarian. “We can’t assume everyone is able-bodied. Some people are in wheelchairs or on crutches.”
There is concern about the traffic safety hazards that would be imposed by putting the library across a busy intersection. “I know how many close calls I’ve had and seen,” said Travis Felver, an EvCC student. “They’re saying there’s going to be a pedestrian bridge, but who’s going to pay for that? I don’t believe it.”
The LRC currently does not include a pedestrian bridge, and administrators have said they will have to secure funding for it from elsewhere. The LRC is being funded by the state.
Several people have expressed concerns that the LRC needs to be closer to the current center of campus. An EvCC survey of faculty showed that 127 out of 150 faculty members preferred the Index Hall location rather than the area across Broadway.
However, the master plan committee reviewed the proposed locations for the LRC in June of 2017 and voted by a slight majority in favor of the location across Broadway, says Sisneros.
“Let’s start putting classrooms over there and then support services. If you have classrooms, people have to go over there,” said Garet Studer, EvCC Athletic Director.
“I feel like [the Board of Trustees] aren’t listening to the students who are clearly saying they don’t want it there,” said Chavez.
EvCC administration held two public hearings on May 2 and May 3 where the public could voice their opinions. “[They are] essentially keeping the whole project hushed,” said Trinity Mann-Beam, EvCC alumni who graduated 2017. “This conversation should have happened two years ago, not now.”
While this may be a new issue to current students, The Clipper has covered developments regarding the LRC for multiple years.
Although Index is the current center of campus, that center will shift toward N. Broadway in the future, says Sisneros. Still, the majority of academic classes that will most require the use of the LRC are likely to remain west of Broadway for decades to come.
“It’s travel time that concerns us,” said Jeanne Leader, Dean of Arts and Learning Resources. “We want the smallest possible distance for the majority of students. The more effort you have to make, the less you’re going to do it.”
“We need to meet students where they are,” said Uhl. “Distance between our buildings is a barrier as it is. Proximity is key in permitting [students] in-the-moment access to what they need.”
Funding has recently been approved for the design phase, and the Board of Trustees have until the end of May or early June to decide on the location. The building phase is expected to be completed by 2023, but that date is subject to change.
The next Board of Trustees meeting is Tuesday, May 29 from 5:00-8:30 p.m. in Jackson Center. Those wanting to voice their opinions will need to sign up, so get there early if you are interested in speaking. Speakers get three minutes to talk.
“They haven’t had the opportunity to hear our voices,” said Uhl. “Let them know how passionately you feel about whatever your choice may be!”
Student LIFE is conducting a Learning Resource Center survey. You can participate in the survey on your Canvas dashboard.