Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is now officially recognized at MCCC, which means a day off for students next year.
The college Board of Trustees voted unanimously at its March 28 board meeting to follow the multitude of institutions that take a day off in observance of this national federal holiday. The board agreed with a group of African-American county residents who argued the move was long overdue.
MCCC board member James DeVries said he always supported recognizing this holiday.
“I think it’s extremely important that we move ahead with this,” DeVries said.
Trustee Lynette Dowler said she supported a citizen’s suggestion tht MCCC have a “day on” instead of a “day off,” where the community comes together to rally for support of civil rights.
The idea is to have campus observances and programs throughout the week, instead of just on the holiday.
President Kojo Quartey noted that Rev. Selma Rankin, whose daughter was present, had fought for the holiday. Rankin, who died a few weeks ago, asked that all memorial funds be used to create an MCCC scholarship. Quartey said this has been done, which received applause from the room.
MCCC student Austin Eby spoke to the board about his personal struggles with the college's redesigned math courses, adding that he represented many of his peers. The video lessons that teach students each section of the course are not an effective learning tool, he said.
The average wait time to receive one-on-one help with a problem in class from an instructor, he calculates, is 20-30 minutes. Eby said students are asking the instructor the same questions, instead of being taught all at once.
“Self teaching this material has been difficult,” he said.
He requested a written response to a petition he has started, which has reportedly gained signatures of not only students but faculty members.
Board members said they would look further into the matter of offering both redesigned and traditional courses.
DeVries said that this conversation hasn’t gone away.
“It would seem the institution needs to address it in some coherent fashion,” he said.
Vice Chairwoman Mary Kay Thayer said she learned in a visit to Seattle schools that more students are passing redesigned math courses than traditional.
Eby asked for traditional courses to return as an option for students who feel trapped taking the redesigned courses.
Trustee Edward Feldman thanked Eby and said he appreciated him representing other students' concerns. He said they were heard and will be addressed.
Quartey said the issue will be addressed at the next board meeting, which will be April 25 at the Whitman Center.
Vice President of Administration Sue Wetzel explained data that showed the relationship between MCCC’s enrollment and tuition, as well as comparisons to other colleges in the area, such as BGSU, Owen’s, UT and EMU.
She said that billing students after payment deadlines to reflect tuition increases like we saw last year was not good and should not be repeated.
She showed projected tuition increases to respond to enrollment declines. She said the property taxes MCCC receives have now reached the same level as in 2005.
Wetzel showed that other colleges charge students many types of fees in addition to the cost of a course.
“We are not going to fee our students to death,” she said. “Everybody’s trying to figure out the right recipe to help themselves.”
Board Chairman Joe Bellino said that board members always hate to raise tuition, but that the projected increase for Fall 2016 seemed reasonable.
“Everything keeps going up, oil keeps going up, wages are going up some, health care has gone up tremendously, so we’re strapped,” he said.
“We don’t like doing it. I know what I paid for my daughters and granddaughters at Grand Valley, UofM and EMU, and it’s still a great bargain.”
President Quartey said tuition will not rise any more than 5 percent.
“That’s about $5 extra per credit hour,” Quartey said. “It could be less, but I don’t anticipate it being any more than that.”
Quartey said the college will place a proposed millage increase on the ballot in November.
“We’ll be going forward, we just need to get some millage language to the board, but in terms of all planning, we’re going in November,” Quartey said.