Ch-ch-ch-changes on campus

by Kelly Sullivan and Matt Benoit

Horizon Reporters

Students returning to Whatcom this year may be surprised to find several changes at the college:

SAL Move to Heiner

Perhaps one of the biggest changes is the much anticipated move of the Student Access Lab from Cascade to lower Heiner Hall. The move took place during summer quarter, with the old lab space in Cascade being remodeled into classrooms. Additionally, the coffee cart from Kulshan will be moved into Heiner to the right of the stairs on the lower level.

“I think it will be a pretty popular place for students,” said Brian Keeley, Whatcom’s director of facilities.

“It is a great step towards a learning commons,” said Ward Naf, IT director at Whatcom, who explained the new layout.

In addition to 29 new computers accessible to students, 20 laptops are available for personal checkout, with the exchange of their student I.D. cards. The new location will allow for future expansion if the move proves successful.

“It should eliminate—at least for a while—students having to wait in line,” said Linda Lambert, library director.

The new lab consists of two rooms, one for individual usage with most of the computers, and the second for large groups. There is a printer in both, as well as two staff members available for students at all hours of operation.

Naf hopes that more students will come to the IT department, and give feedback on what other features they would like to see in the lab in the future.

Campus Construction           

In addition to the SAL lab move, a number of campus construction projects occurred over the summer months, and some of them will continue after classes begin.

Whatcom’s Foundation Building, which houses Community Education classes, began receiving an upgrade on its exterior features in early July. Brian Keeley, director of facilities at Whatcom, said the aim of the project—which includes giving the building a brick façade—is to make the structure more architecturally consistent with the rest of the campus.

Keeley said a covered entryway to the building will also be created. The construction should be completed by the end of October.

Several of the college’s parking lots were patched and resealed between Sept. 10 and 13, and work in other parking areas was hoped to be completed by Sept. 21, the first day of school. Keeley said that if wet weather prevented the work from being finished, it would be postponed to next summer.

Other small changes around campus, said Keeley, include: exterior upgrades to the Pavilion in the form of roofing, siding, and paint; layout changes in the Learning Center; renovations to the Entry and Advising area; and a new multi-purpose classroom in the Foundation Building.

 New Bike Shelter

Students will also soon notice a new covered bike rack a little ways off the walkway in between Cascade and Kulshan. It is being created in memory of Denise Guren, a library staff member who died from cancer just over a year ago.

Keeley said he had been getting requests for more bike parking around campus. Building a bike shelter to remember Guren, who was an avid biker, made sense.

Linda Lambert and fellow library staff, who had become very close with Guren over the years, wanted to do something to remember her. The new shelter will house 16 bikes, have a roof and three walls, and will be illuminated at night.

Last April, a memorial concert raised $1,700 to go towards the Denise Guren Memorial Fund. The fund was set up by Whatcom library staff members, and had raised about $7,600 by the end of spring quarter.

Keeley said the bike shelter structure was delivered to the college in early September, and a concrete slab must be poured before the shelter can be assembled. He said he hopes this will occur by mid-October.

Enrollment, Tuition, and Budget Cuts Increase…Again    

Something else students will find significant, if they haven’t already started scraping the bottoms of their pockets to compensate, is a 7 percent tuition increase. This comes on the heels of a 7 percent tuition increase at the beginning of the last school year.

“Personally, I think it is very difficult for students to pay these increased tuition rates,” said Trish Onion, Vice President for Educational Services.

Onion said she wished they would have looked at another way to balance the budget, but on the bright side, she said she believes the increases will help serve the rising number of students attending Whatcom by compensating for the costs of larger class numbers and providing for their resources.

Whatcom president Kathi Hiyane-Brown, in her address to staff and faculty at Whatcom’s All-College Day event on Sept. 15, said that summer quarter enrollment increased 19 percent from 2009, and that preliminary numbers showed a 14 percent increase in fall quarter enrollment as well. She also added that 4,800 FAFSA financial aid applications had been turned in to the college for the upcoming academic year.

Also, more cuts to the college’s operational budget are expected. Whatcom suffered a $1.2 million-dollar cut last year as part of statewide budget trimming, and in the spring announced it would lose another $650,000 of funding headed into this school year. That cut resulted in the closure of the Child Development Center in June.

Brown said that recently announced budget cuts from Washington State governor Christine Gregoire means the college will likely have to trim anywhere from an additional 4 to 9 percent of its budget.

“It is inevitable,” she said, that more reductions are coming. A 6 percent cut would translate to $746,000 for Whatcom, Brown added, and would take effect “almost immediately,” on October 1.

The specifics of the cuts have yet to be finalized, but budget reductions announced Sept. 16 for Whatcom’s 2011 fiscal year listed a cut of $783,000.

Orca Cards    

Now available at the Student Life office in Syre 208 are new enhanced student ID cards. Called Orca Cards, the new plastic cards—issued to all new and current students, faculty, and staff—will increase easy access around campus.

The cards have a magnetic strip and smart chip that communicates with card reader equipment, and can be used as a debit card if funds are deposited into a student cash account.

Students can use the Orca Card for many services on-campus, including payment at vending machines, printers, copy machines, the campus bookstore, and at the Dockside Café, Whatcom’s cafeteria. The cards also can be used for on-campus computer labs, to check out library books, pay library fines, and attend events at the college, including athletic events.

The campus Web site says the college hopes to eventually have the cards used off-campus at local merchants, as well as to be encoded to double as student passes for WTA bus service. 

The cards are free to students, but a replacement fee of $15 will be charged to students whose cards are lost or stolen. Damaged cards will be replaced free of charge for only the first occurrence of damage. For more information about the Orca Card, visit

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