In Depth

Select Campus Dorms Inaccessible to Students with Temporary Disabilities

Staring down at the flight of stairs from the second floor was overwhelming at times for Ariana Remmel ’09. “Sometimes I was so tired, I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to die.’” Remmel, who returned from winter break recovering from an ankle injury said, “To get downstairs would take three or four minutes because other people would want to get down and I wouldn’t want to be in their way, so I’d wait for them to pass me. If you went too fast you would trip over your crutches.” Given the large campus, students said that it was difficult to get around quickly. However, they felt that the school did a fairly good job accommodating their needs. Marlys Edwards, Dean of Students and Residential Life, said, “Temporary injury calls for temporary support. Public safety helps people with temporary injuries. If the student’s injury is that great, then the student may be suggested to take a leave from school. Getting well is important. And getting better may require the student to leave to recuperate.” Catherine Roden, house counselor in Paul Revere and Instructor in Chemistry and Biology, had a girl in her dorm who had a temporary injury. “As a house counselor, I just make sure that she’s okay. Looking out that they’re safe,” said Roden. Remmel said that her house counselor in Johnson Hall, Lixia Ma, Instructor in Chinese, “…always brought me up some food. By the time I would go downstairs all the food would be gone, so she’d bring me some dumplings or snacks. She was so sweet.” “Every year we have an average of two kids a year that have situations that are considered long-term. Others are limited temporarily, and there’s a pretty good size of students who fit in this group,” said Edwards. Edwards said that handicap accessibility “absolutely” plays into rooming each year. “If there is a student with a permanent disability, the parents would contact Pat Davison, Dr. Keller and me. We would discuss what the student would need such as special accommodations in the room. Students with disabilities do not go through the normal housing lottery.” Patricia Davison is the Coordinator of Student Disability Resources at Andover. She organizes accommodations for students’ daily life at Andover. Davison said, “If a student is handicapped, he or she cannot choose what dorm they want to go into, but must go only to the dorm with the right accommodations. There are only a few dorms like that. So yes, the room may be a single room, which is hard for other students to get, but the student does not have the same number of choices as other students.” There have not been many students in the past who have needed accessible dorm rooms, wrote Edwards in an email. “We do have spaces that can accommodate students who need special accommodations,” Edwards wrote. Davison said, “As the school makes improvements, the order of the renovated buildings goes from important to the less important. So the buildings that everyone needs access to would be done first, then big dorms, then small dorms, since not everyone needs to have access to the smaller dorms.” Edwards said, “We have 42 dorms. Not all dorms will be renovated so that they are handicap accessible. All larger dorms will be handicap accessible, and smaller dorms may be handicapped accessible, but may not have handicap-accessible rooms.” Edwards said, “Mr. Carter and Mr. Williams of OPP both had a series of discussions with the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act]. Through working together, they decided which dorms and the number of dorms would have handicap accessibility for a variety of options.” Davison said, “There is at least one dorm in each grade of each sex that has an elevator.” She continued, “A student may want to visit a friend at a dorm that does not have handicap accessibility, and the student should not have to think about those things, but it is hard to get all the buildings to be accessible.” Andover is working towards accessibility in all dorm common rooms and accessible bathrooms in all dorms. Negotiations with state have led to six accessible dorms on campus: Bartlet, Paul Revere, Adams, Rockwell, Isham, and Stuart. All of these dorms contain elevators.