Randy Ruiz looked pensive when he considered how the Reentry Center, also known as The Grace Clement Center, will continue to function under the umbrella of The Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Ruiz is one of several older students on campus who have enjoyed the Reentry Center over the years.Recently, however, the center has met troubled times. This summer its director, Lynn Ireland, retired, with the program secretary soon following. The doors to the center were closed, and darkness descended on what was once a sanctuary on campus for older students, one that offered books, information, a coffee pot always steaming and good conversation.Ruiz said that he was confused and taken by surprise when he went to the center and it was closed. Likewise, other patrons were caught off guard and disheartened by the closure.Students left floundering were advised by Paul Mendoza, Vice President of Student Services, to use the faculty lounge in the cafeteria as a temporary meeting area. Many students, however, felt uncomfortable and unwelcomed by faculty members who seemed resentful and put upon by the students.“Students were told to use the faculty lounge by Mr. Mendoza, and some of us had problems with some of the faculty that didn’t know what reentry students were doing there,” said Ruiz.“At the Reentry Center we had our own space,” continued the Yuba College art major. “Students used to eat their lunch, do assignments and talk to people they had something in common with. I would like that to continue in the future.”Most likely that kind of collegial atmosphere will not continue in the future. As noted by David Farrell, Dean of Student Development, in a comparison sheet, the WIA cannot maintain the service provided by the Reentry Center of “a location for students to socialize, eat lunch, etc.”Ruiz, 45 year-old Vice President of the Reentry Students’ Association, dedicated to giving voice to the concerns of reentry students on campus, said that it has been difficult dealing with the transition that the Reentry Center is going through. The center was such an integral part of his educational experience since coming to Yuba.“The support at the reentry center was very nurturing. When I originally came on campus, I felt flustered, overwhelmed and wanted to go home. And while I was waiting for my bus, a lady from the Reentry Center saw me and took me over to the center. They gave me coffee and asked me what I wanted to do,” said Ruiz. “They explained many things, and I decided I wanted to come back to school.”Ruiz said he looks forward to continuing his education, understands that inevitably all things will not be exactly the same now that the center is part of WIA but hopes the changes will benefit all students in the long run.“The WIA is a training program to put people back into the workforce, and the Reentry Center was to go back to get an education to find out what students wanted to do,” said Ruiz, who sees some common denominators in both programs.Glenn Morlan, 55, has also been assisted by the Reentry Center program immensely. Morlan admits that coming to a campus of young people was a bit overwhelming.“I used to visit the center twice a week,” said Morlan. “They were always very supportive, and I would check out books. Then I went there this semester, and there was nothing there.”The culinary arts major was optimistic, however, about the merger of WIA and the Reentry Center, and urges WIA to include many of the former program’s goals and philosophies.“The Reentry Center was a place that helped you integrate where you were with where you wanted to be,” said Morlan.Judy Dech, who is the program specialist for the WIA program on campus, coordinating the reentry program, understands many of the issues Ruiz, Morlan and other reentry students have brought up about the merger.“The Reentry Center was Lynn Ireland’s baby,” said Dech, acknowledging her predecessor’s enormous contributions to reentry students on campus. “But there have been many misconceptions about our program. In reality, about all reentry students will qualify for WIA services, and it would be a great help to them. We also help students with books, uniforms and other supplies.”However, in a comparison of the services provided by WIA and the Reentry Center, David Farrell, Dean of Student Development, noted that a newsletter formally circulated by the Reentry Center, textbook loans, bus passes, and book vouchers for non-WIA students were “dependent on continued funding from various sources.”Admittedly, Dech notes differences between the programs. “The difference I see between WIA and reentry students is that we try to mainstream our students while the reentry program was more for studying,” said Dech. “I think we can find some happy mediums.”In recent days, Dech and her staff have been very busy orchestrating the move from room 1021, where the WIA is located, to its future site in the 100B building where the health center and the Reentry Center once shared space. This future site will involve moving the nurse to another building on the East side and then remodeling the area for several computers open to all students.In the future, according to Dech, space will be made available for a meeting area for reentry students, as many have expressed a desire for one.Dech encourages all students to come and learn about the different services as well as meet the staff as soon as the transition to their new site in the l00B building is complete in December.