During the Student Leadership Advisory Council meeting on Oct. 17, Grand Rapids Community College President Steven Ender delivered a brief ‘State of GRCC’ address, followed by a question and answer session.
Ender touched on several points during the opening address, among them tuition, financial aid, the rate of return of first year students, and the financial footing of GRCC.
“Five years ago, our position was not as strong as I hoped it would be,” Ender said.
Since Ender became president of GRCC in 2009, tuition has gone up by about 4 percent each year, and Ender expects it will go up another 3 or 4 percent next year as well.
“We work pretty hard to reduce costs,” Ender said, but after the 2012 bond proposal failed, the money for of renovations on the second floor of the Main building and the top floors of Cook Hall and updates like energy efficient windows and fire suppression sprinklers had to be raised in part from tuition, despite other outside investment and donation.
“We had hoped to raise about 90 million … and we lost horribly,” Ender said about the bond issue.
Renovations costing an estimated $5 million are set to resume this summer in Cook Hall and the Applied Technology Center.
During the question and answer session, many students expressed concern about parking at GRCC.
Ender tried to get ahead of the students, “If I had my way, we would blow up one of the parking ramps. It would be gone. It would be green space… and we would create service lots, and we would bus people back and forth to campus every 20 minutes.”
Other suggestions included new signage for speed limits and directions to help prevent students getting lost or injured in the ramps, and Ender expressed interest in carpooling incentives.
Navigating the main parking ramp was a big concern of Steven Mosher, sophomore and Communications officer of GRCC’s Christian Fellowship.
“If you’re on one level of the ramp, you can’t even go straight across to the other side,” he said.
After another student expressed concern over the cost of books bought with financial aid at the bookstore, Ender said he would look into allowing students to use financial aid to buy textbooks outside of GRCC’s bookstore in the future.
“Buy the cheapest textbook that you can find,” he said. “If you never buy another textbook in our bookstore, I will continue to love you forever.”
Ender has reached out to students multiple times this year, trying to build a greater connection between students and staff.
“We did a prayer around the pole, and he actually joined us,” Mosher said. “It was enjoyable, being able to interact.”
The next open SLAC meeting takes place on Thursday. It will be the last chance to offer input before the new Constitution is revealed on Nov. 14, and a vote to ratify it will be held on Dec. 5. Student Congress officer elections are set for next semester.