Is Drew actually accessible to all students?

by Anna Gombert

Making the campus accessible to all students has long been focus of Drew. Recently, students have been raising questions about accessibility on Drew’s campus. Some students have noticed numerous accessibility issues on campus, such as railings on handicap accessible ramps being broken or snow being shoveled into handicap parking spots during the most recent snow day.

 

On the Drew’s Accessibility Services page reads the statement, “As part of Drew’s steadfast commitment to lifelong cultivation of the whole person, the Office of Accessibility Resources (OAR) works to remove barriers to the education of people with documented disabilities.” The site also has a list titled “What We Promise to Do” which entails what the office can and will do for students. Under the Frequently Asked Questions section of the page explains that there is no separate tutoring accommodations for students with disabilities and how, in contrast to high schoolers, college students are responsible for identifying needs for accommodations and that no changes to course materials or degree requirements are allowed.

 

A list of accessible buildings can be found on the Accessibility Resources page and details the compatibility of each building to students with disabilities, such as the presence of door openers and elevators. Under the Campus Meeting and Events page, there is a document that lists areas that are accessible for campus events to be held. However, the two lists provided by the offices have discrepancies between themselves; several buildings listed as accessible on one list are marked as inaccessible on the other. The document states that accessibility is defined as “a person with any special needs can get in and out of the location of your event, use a restroom if necessary, and enjoy refreshments.” There is also a rule that if an event is open to the entire campus or public, it must meet these standards of accessibility. However, if an event is “invitation only” or a club meeting, “it may be held in locations that are not fully accessible.”

 

The Accessibility Services Coordinator on campus is Diane Moscaritolo. She works alongside students that disclose disabilities to ensure they have all they need to succeed at Drew and address any immediate concerns they might have. The Drew Acorn has requested an interview with Moscaritolo, yet she not be reached for an interview, nor could Interim Assistant Vice President of Facilities and Campus Operation Greg Smith.

 

Bob Meade, the Campus Housing Coordinator who is in charge of housing assignments and selections, explained the process of being placed in disability accessible housing. “Its called medical space housing. So anyone with any kind of disability or mental or physical problems fills out an application and they take it to either the health center, counseling and psychological services, or the disabilities coordinator who then approves it or not,” said Meade. He added that  none of the graduate or theological housing is qualified to be accessible since the building are older. Some of the undergraduate residence halls, such as Foster Hall, are also listed as not accessible or having no accessible features. Some of the newer buildings on campus are considered to be accessible, such as McLendon Hall and the recently renovated the Commons. However, students with physical disabilities recently have noted that they can only access to the Commons through a service elevator that opens into the kitchen. Though Drew has been putting efforts to make the campus more accessible and provide opportunities for any student to strive, many students who are disabled or are acquainted with students with disabilities have brought to attention the issues of accessibility on campus, noting that there are many more improvements to be made.

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