Housing announces plans to implement more accessibility in some campus dorms

Joseph Diebold

After students depart from residence halls June 9, the University will begin several summer renovation projects primarily designed to increase accessibility to various living spaces on campus.

Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, assistant vice president for Student Auxiliary Services, said the biggest initiative is the “2303 Sheridan Project.” The project will consist primarily of an interior renovation of both Foster House and the College of Cultural and Community Studies and pulls them into one building. The first floor of the new building will have handicap accessible rooms.

The project also involves an accessibility program that adds porches and ramps to the quad in front of the two buildings and 2251 Sheridan Road, Lindgren House and three fraternity houses.

Payne-Kirchmeier said renovation decisions are made based on building assessments conducted by Facilities Management. A master planning firm will hold preliminary meetings with the University next week to work out a full 10-year renovation schedule.

The other major renovation, at Chapin Residential College, will also enhance handicap accessibility. Payne-Kirchmeier said an accessibility entrance will be added, and first floor rooms will be updated to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“It definitely opens (Chapin) up to students,” said Chapin president Erik Zorn, a Weinberg freshman. “People who are disabled will still be able to participate in the residential college program without that being a limiting factor to it, which is great. Currently Chapin wouldn’t be qualified to do that. If we do have a student who needs to use one of the ADA-accessible rooms, it’ll allow us to still make them feel like they’re a part of the community.”

Zorn said the Chapin renovation will also consist of a new pantry on each floor and additional bathrooms on the second and third floors, which will allow Chapin to have co-ed floors for the first time. Payne-Kirchmeier said the residential college’s current stairwell will be replaced and a second one will be added.

“It’s time,” she said of the staircases.

Payne-Kirchmeier also reported that a new green space will be installed in front of Allison Hall, calling the current state of affairs a “bike rack jungle.”

“We’ll be redesigning where the bike racks go, kind of moving them to the periphery of that green space so that there’s actually open space for students to take advantage of,” she said.

In addition to those changes, the fire alarm systems in 11 residential buildings will be upgraded, and the University will work to establish an “online work-order submission process for residents.” The new system, she said, will allow residents to report issues directly to Facilities Management rather than going through their community assistants.

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