In a public town hall held Dec. 5, Campus Planning and Retail Service members explained where they currently are in the Center for Equity and Inclusion’s move and how the scope of the project has changed. They also acknowledged and answered comments and questions concerning the current and future usage of the Teaching and Learning Center’s spaces. This talk was in response to issues brought up by members of the TLC community during Chancellor Mark Pagano’s second town hall meeting.
Project Development and Construction Manager Melony Pederson explained that CPRS is still in the early stages of programming for the Snoqualmie and Tioga Library buildings — which means they are still collecting data, inspecting the spaces they have to work with and talking with stakeholders to understand how to satisfy the needs of the different departments. She stated that CPRS has only started the first third of the project.
The original project was to find an area to relocate the CEI. Last year, Pagano agreed with Associated Students of the UWT’s demand to move the CEI out of its current space in West Coast Grocery to a space that will better facilitate its needs by the beginning of the 2019 academic year. One plan proposed was to see if the CEI could be moved into the upper two floors of the Tioga Library Building. Pederson explained how this plan started the complications of moving the CEI.
“The library themselves are working on solving their own space challenges, one of which is that they are currently maxed out,” Pederson said. “You can imagine this is very concerning. The library of a university is central. It provides a ton of services [and] it is a landmark place for students to go. We wanted to make sure that the concerns of the library are addressed. Through this, it became clear we needed to take a holistic look at Snoqualmie and the Tioga Library Building.”
In re-examining their approach to the CEI move and the spaces within the Snoqualmie and Tioga Library buildings, CPRS discovered that other departments and services were having problems with space and capacity.
“Similarly to the library, we found out that they [the TLC] too are maxed out currently, and they are a highly, highly [sic] utilized space,” Pederson said. “So, we took our findings and we decided it was time to meet with campus leadership. We wanted to bring these concerns to light, and we wanted to study this more thoroughly with an architect. That was when we decided to move forward and fully engage with each of these units, officially, and with a consultant.”
The current CEI move project now encompases a reevaluation of the Snoqualmie Building, the CEI, the TLB and all of the facilities and services in them. In answering the question about how this will affect the timeframe set forth by Pagano, CPRS Director Patrick Clark said that moving the CEI by next fall was not a realistic goal and that the move would have to happen in incremental phases over the the next few years.
“I know a while back Mark [Pagano] had made the statement… that CEI would be housed by fall of 2019… If I were a betting person I wouldn’t bet on the fall,” Clark said. “There’s too many parts we still have to explore through this process to force a schedule. I know for some people that might not sit well. They may say ‘well, I really want this answer today or tomorrow,’ and what I would say is, ‘we want to come up with the right solution, not just a solution.’ That may mean we have to go slow to go fast.”
Several TLC and CEI community members commented on the importance of this new step in ensuring that stakeholders in this project are able to have their input heard and taken into consideration. It was also said that there is a need to continue to be in communication with and support of each department. Dr. Christine Stevens brought up that there was an initial issue of “TLC vs. CEI” when there is no need for the dichotomy. Similarly, Assistant Chancellor of Equity and Inclusion James McShay offered his reassurance that the CEI and the TLC — as well as every other campus service — can and should come together to help and promote each other.
“I think what is important to know is that by cultivating unity and fostering synergies, there is a way which we can do some bridging with students that might help them to not just see these as separate units, but they are all interconnected,” McShay said.
Beck Adelante, UWT alumnus and TLC writing consultant, stated they felt better to focus on synergy between the many departments and services involved, as well as the change in focus CPRS is taking in handling the Snoqualmie-Tioga project.
“They [CPRS] have made a verbal promise here today that they will bring everybody up-to-date, that there will be more effort to find out what all of these organizations need,” Adelante said. “The time frame seems to have been extended, which is comforting. I think that it is really clear based on what everybody was saying and all the questions that were asked that everybody really does want these services to be collaborative, and I think that is the best approach. Treating this as an opportunity to do that is really important, and it is heartening because of how many people are engaged, [and] how many faculty, staff and students were here to express that.”
The next public event concerning the Snoqualmie-Tioga project is an open house scheduled Feb. 25, with a time and place to be determined. Several workshops, charrettes, research opportunities and meetings with stakeholders are scheduled in the meantime, with a specific focus on ensuring the best outcome for everyone involved.
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