New Construction Aims to Assist Students with Disabilities

By: Skye Saunders

Sandra Ranjan’s physical disability causes limitations for her, but she’s still able to use her disability in a positive outlook for other disabled students like herself. (Photo by: Skye Saunders)

For students with disabilities getting around the Purchase campus can be a challenge. With uneven walkways, inaccessible buildings lacking ramps, and dorming difficulties, students with disabilities face hardship that abled bodied students do not.


Sandra Ranjan, a sophomore and majors in psychology, uses a motorized wheelchair and has an aide. Ranjan feels restricted by her physical condition due to the fact that not all of the classrooms are accessible.


“All of my classes are in one building,” said Ranjan. “I am always in the Humanities building. It’s kind of weird that I’m always stuck in the same building.”


Nicholas Astor, a sophomore history and anthropology major, has cerebral palsy. He uses a walker and motorized wheelchair to get around, along with a student aid. When Astor entered his freshman year, he had some dorming difficulties.


“When I was a freshman I could not pass the first floor of Crossroads, Big Haus or Farside,” said Astor.


Another sophomore who’s concerned about more accessibility on campus is Jazmin Urgiles. She uses a manual wheelchair but still needs help maneuvering.


“The campus said they’re going to provide the necessary accommodations due to my disability but didn't,” said Urgiles.“If you talk to the Office of Disability Resources face to face, the faculty members tell you to email them.”


Urgiles relays her thoughts on the campus classroom building accommodations.


“The campus, feels like, if they put ramps everywhere then it’s accessible,” said Urgiles. “But, the campus doesn’t put in the factors of how steep ramps are, the conditions of the actual floor being bumpy or not, they don’t really care about that.”


Danny Lee, is a junior with cerebral palsy that causes him to walk with a limp. His limp doesn’t stop him from walking to classes, but he does have limitations.


“With all of the recent fire alarms that have been going off in the dorms, in case of a real fire how would the disabled students in wheelchairs get out,” said Lee. “Especially since the elevators are off limits during actual fires, and you would just have to take the stairs.”


Elizabeth Guffey, a professor who teaches Art and Design History, has cerebral palsy that causes issues with balancing making it’s very hard for her to walk significant distances.


“When the Humanities building was being renovated, closed for almost five years and for that length of time we were all moved out,” said Guffey. “This whole area around the cemetery was a pedestrian zone, and I was wondering what was going to happen to the accessible parking.”


Michael Kopas, Senior Director of Facilities and Capital Planning, has addressed the concerns that both students and faculty have about access on campus including the accessible parking.


“We are adding two ADA parking spaces behind the Museum across from the Children’s Center next summer,” said Kopas.


The addition of the parking spaces will give direct access to the Plaza, in addition to adding 9 ADA parking spaces behind the Natural Science building to provide accommodations for more access to the Plaza if needed.


“All of the new construction either meets or exceeds ADA requirements,” said Kopas. “There’s new slopes and ramps that are constructed to meet those requirements. We certainly have more work we want to do, but we are making progress.”


Scott Meshnick, who’s an Access Counselor and Technology specialist at the ODR, addressed his concerns with the Social and Natural Science building.


“These buildings failed at complete physical accessibility with its narrow bathrooms,” said Meshnick. “There are future plans to renovate those bathrooms to make it more physical accessible for students with disabilities.”

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