A New Trotter Initiative (University of Michigan) records: 2013-2016
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History

The A New Trotter (ANT) Initiative was a student-led project at the University of Michigan from 2013-2016. The purpose of the project was to find a new home for the William Monroe Trotter Multicultural Center. The original facility was founded as the Trotter House in 1971 and originally served as the Black student cultural center on campus. The house was named after William Monroe Trotter, a prominent African American businessman and activist in the early 20th century who was also involved in the establishment of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The Trotter House was originally created in response to the Black Action Movement (BAM) strike in the early 1970s. during which students expressed the desire for a space for African American students and faculty to hold meetings and cultural events. In 1981, the facility was renamed the Trotter Multicultural Center and merged with the Office of Multi-Ethnic Affairs to broaden the range of students it served.

In the fall of 2013, students began to advocate for the development of a new Trotter House away from the original Washtenaw Avenue location. The desire for a new space on Central Campus was sparked by concerns about the deteriorating condition of the house, security concerns following an August 2013 break-in and desire to be located in a more accessible and active area of campus. The A New Trotter Initiative was formed to work towards building a facility that would better suit the needs of students.

Additional attention was brought to the movement when on January 20th 2014, the Black Student Union (BSU) presented the University of Michigan administration with a list of seven demands focused on improving the climate for minority students at the university. The demands included a new Central Campus location for the Trotter Multicultural Center. In February 2014, the ANT group officially partnered with the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs to work on the project and the university committed $350,000 to renovate the existing Trotter Center and explore plans for a new location. Throughout the spring of 2014, the ANT project conducted meetings with other students to brainstorm ideas for a new facility that could better fit their needs as a community space. The project team also met with consultants hired by the university to discuss student concerns and create a project timeline.

Through the fall of 2014 and winter of 2015, the ANT group and the university consultants continued to gather information about student preferences, conducted site visists to multicultural centers at other institutions and identified four potential sites for the new facility. Students overwhelmingly supported the proposed State Street location on the Betsey Barbour/Helen Newberry lawn. In December 2015, the University of Michigan Board of Regents approved a $10 million proposal to build a new Trotter Multicultural Center at this location.

The schematic design for the new facility was developed in collaboration between the ANT group, the Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas + Company design team and university staff from the Trotter House, Office of Student Life, the Provost's Office and the Office of Architecture, Design and Engineering. The design team periodically held town hall meetings and met with student groups to allow students to participate in the planning process. The schematic design for the new Trotter Multicultural Center was completed in May 2016. In response to concerns from students, faculty and alumni, the university affirmed the new facility would continue to be named after William Monroe Trotter. After the design stage was completed, the A New Trotter project transitioned to the Trotter on State initiative, a continuing effort to ensure the Trotter Multicultural Center meets the needs of students on the University of Michigan campus.