The members of Eliminate Racism 815 were very excited when we heard that Rock Valley College had entered into an agreement with the city of Rockford to establish the Area Tech Center at Colman Village in Southwest Rockford. We were, however, quite dismayed when Rock Valley College announced that they were pulling out of the legal agreement after a year because they were frustrated with the cost and the timeline. It also did not seem to matter that this site would most likely have been the catalyst for further development in that area, an area without a national grocery store, big box store, drug store, coffee shop or restaurant.

The college then announced that they wanted the ATC centrally located in the city. It was stated at that time that a central location was the best site for everyone. Now we discover that they have been considering Machesney Park and Boone County (and the airport) for the site.

This despite the fact that they want it to be "accessible for students and faculty." And we have a clue to their thinking when they use dog whistle words in their proposal, saying that it "should be in a neighborhood that is safe," "safe" usually being a word many people interpret as meaning "white."

Additionally, the fact that this tech center is going to be funded by tax dollars, and Rock Valley College is also funded by tax dollars, should entitle the community to engage in public discussions about the location of the site. Yet, we are told that RVC is "not keen on having a public dialogue to allow RVC stakeholders to talk with trustees about where an ATC would provide the maximum return on taxpayers’ investment."

We do not believe that the current effort requesting bids is in the best interests of the community at large, the students, the business and manufacturing community, or the faculty.

We encourage the RVC board of trustees to put a hold on the proposal process and host opportunities for public dialogue. And we also propose that, when the public dialogue occurs, the RVC board of trustees actually listens to what the members of this community want.

— Dick Rundall, president, board of directors, Eliminate Racism 815