On the first day of fall classes on NW Campus, one of the main NW05 elevators went out of order sometime in the day, NW student Kennedie Watkins said.
“The only reason I know about it is because my friend and I went to go get food and we came back and tried to use the elevator, and it wouldn’t work,” she said.
This student is one of several others who said they have experienced issues at the newly opened NW05 building. Students have begun to notice that the building has limits in access as well as space.
NW student Leander D’Costa and member of NW Intercultural Network is happy with the way the building has turned out, but he believes it lacks Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility.
The only accessible door for someone in a wheelchair is the main door facing the North parking lot, he said. Paired with electrical outages and elevator malfunctions that have previously occurred, he worries someone with a wheelchair could not get past the first floor.
“Basically, if you’re in a wheelchair, you’re confined to the lowest floor on the ground floor because you can’t come up here unless you use the elevators right in the back,” he said, “But to get there, someone in a wheelchair would have to need assistance from another student to open the doors for them.”
Watkins said, however, she believes faculty have been working on addressing some accessibility problems by noting where ADA improvements need to be addressed.
“While it might be a process, and it’s not widespread yet, there are people who are talking about it, and who are trying to take steps to make sure that we manage that problem and get it fixed. So, I do appreciate that,” she said.
Bill Lace, a former vice chancellor who is working on public relations for the college, recalled a meeting early this summer about an ADA access concern from a student who could not use the ADA button to the main door.
“They reported that [the complaint], and the guy said that had been taken care of,” he said.
Some students, like SGA president Celeste Pensado, worry that NW05 is becoming too full. NW05 houses three other buildings under construction: WSTU, WTLO and WFAB.
The library is currently in an NW05 “swing space,” or temporary quarter. Pensado said she was disappointed that the selection of books there was smaller, and she had trouble finding specific books.
Lace explained the state of the building right now is like moving chess pieces.
With construction plans taking place, classrooms and offices like admissions and the bookstore are being shifted around to coordinate with the changing campus.
“It’s tight,” he said.
It is important to Watkins that the administration is listening to students when concerns are brought up because she said she has seen how hard it is to access help from higher administration.
Recently, NW SGA has had more opportunities to meet with vice president of student affairs Jan Clayton, and Watkins said it is something she feels is going to be helpful.
“It is definitely nice that the faculty and everybody is trying to make themselves more accessible to the students,” she said.