By Natalie Rodriguez
A library remodeling project has created conflict at Morton College.
After a September announcement that the college would build a new student center that would take over study space on the second floor of the Morton College library, both students and faculty resisted.
Liliana Carrizales, a first-year nursing student at Morton, uses the study area along with other nursing students.
“I do find myself using it so I hope they don’t take it away,” she said. “And most of the students are really concerned.”
According to Carrizales, students don’t have many places to study on campus.
“It would be inconvenient for some of us, because then we would have to find another place to study,” said Carrizales. “We have a nurse lab, with about six computers but it gets crowed and we use that space to spread out, study, and get in groups.”
The nursing students, upon finding out about the two-year initiative, signed a petition with the support of their nursing professors.
“First it was the students that got together and then it was the nursing professors that got together after that,” said Carrizales.”-… as far as we know they’re still going to remodel and demolish it but I know that the council for nurses and everything like students from there, I know they’re working to keep it.”
Carrizales doesn’t see the point in Morton College President Stan Fields wanting to change Morton’s second floor library.
“I see his point of view of making a change, but I also see why, if everything is working fine, there’s no need for change,” she said. “If it’s not broken why fix it?”
Nursing student Tania Alcala agrees with Carrizales.
“It gives us the opportunity to study,” said Alcala. “I don’t really agree to what he wants to do.”
Student trustee Andrea Chavarria disagrees.
“I want my fellow classmates and students at Morton College to have a facility where they have resources that are easily accessible because people that are going through these issues are often afraid to ask for help,” she said.
The proposed Student Success Center would have a behavioral health staff member to help students address student challenges related to homelessness, LGTBQ, depression and more. It will also have study areas and private testing areas.
College Spokeswoman Blanca Jara defended the decision in a letter to the student body.
“Morton College is embarking on a prominent new Student Services Center where students will have new space available for centralized academic support services like tutoring, academic advising and skill assessment,” she wrote.
“The plan to repurpose the second floor of the library and possibly convert into a Student Success Center, in my opinion, would be a great resource for students,” she wrote.
However, despite open forums held to address student concerns about the Student Success Center, Chavarria thinks that there have been some issues about informing students.
“I believe there are issues that need to be addressed at Morton College, such as the misinformation about the plans to repurpose the second floor of the library,” she said.
In September, Morton’s faculty passed a “vote of no confidence” in Fields. The faculty’s recent vote of no confidence came just before the Higher Learning Commission’s visit to the campus. To be accredited, the college must receive the approval of the Higher Learning Commission.
Carrizales is concerned about HLC’s visit.
“Yeah, especially if we don’t get accredited, then I have to go somewhere else to get certified, to get a degree,” she said.
However, Chavarria does not worry about Morton’s future.
“I have been a student at Morton College for three years, and I can say that the education that I have received at this facility has been amazing,” said Chavarria. “My professors are approachable and will even make time for their students if they need assistance in an assignment.”
In a written statement, provided by Jara, members of the Board of Trustees made it clear that they stand by Fields.
“We also stand committed to supporting Dr. Fields and his vision for a stronger Morton College,” the board wrote. “It is our hope that the faculty will join us in these endeavors and work together to make Morton College the very best that it can be.”