CHA-CHING: UMich $10M multicultural center makes grand debut
- A $10 million multicultural center has opened its doors at the University of Michigan.
- The regent and his wife were going to chip in $3 million...until there was backlash against naming the center after them.
Ten million dollars was the price tag on the “multicultural center” opened at the University of Michigan earlier in April.
The school unveiled the Trotter Multicultural Center as a place for students and faculty to discuss topics such as gender, race, and multiculturalism, according to a UMich news release.
The center is a new iteration of the campus’ William Monroe Trotter Multicultural Center, originally established as the Trotter House in 1971 as a center for black students, WXYZ-TV in Detroit reported. The university underwent plans to construct the new and improved center after demands made by the Black Student Union in 2014.
The 20,000-square-foot building was originally set to be named after UM Regent Mark Bernstein and his wife Rachel Bendit after the couple pledged $3 million toward the project, but the couple decided to rescind their donation after backlash from students and other community members who lamented that renaming the Trotter building, which, according to MLive.com, is the only UM structure named after an African American, would actually undermine the goal of multiculturalism. Bernstein and Bendit reaffirmed their support for the cause and stated that they planned to look into other ways to contribute.
UM spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen told Campus Reform that the project was ultimately able to make up for the loss of Bernstein’s gift through other gifts and “investment proceeds.”
She also clarified that the gift was not withdrawn, but rather “redirected” to “other university priorities.”
“In our increasingly divided and divisive society, we feel not just motivated, but obligated, to stand publicly for a broad and inclusive approach to multiculturalism,” Bernstein said at the time. “That is why we made this gift - it was about enhancing and preserving Trotter while demonstrating for all to see, that multiculturalism in general and race in particular are not other people’s issues, but a shared responsibility.”
“We know and appreciate that this is a complicated and challenging moment. Once the applause for the announcement of our gift quieted, we heard something else - voices on this campus that expressed deep, heartfelt concern about what is happening,” he said. “What we believed to be a gift, others felt was a loss.”
Years after the naming snafu, the brand new multicultural center has finally opened its doors. The facility boasts events pertaining to art, music, and food, as well as programs aimed toward training leaders who are familiar with social justice and multiculturalism.
The Trotter Center will also host courses, starting in fall 2019.
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