Several buildings on campus present accessibility problem


The wooden ramp outside of Moody Hall is one of the handicap-friendly additions on campus.

With construction underway on the John Brooks Williams Science Center and on library renovations, St. Edward’s University is a campus in flux. Though additions include a ramp outside Moody Hall added last spring, there are still buildings on campus that do not have ramps or elevators.

Sorin Hall, Andre Hall and the Carriage House currently have no elevators, which proves difficult for students using wheelchairs trying to access levels above the ground floor.

The lack of elevators may be inconvenient, but it is not illegal, according to Sherry Dawson, the Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA, coordinator on St. Edward’s campus.

While buildings must meet ADA codes for accessibility, older buildings must be brought up to code if and when they are renovated. But the ADA does not require that businesses retrofit buildings to install elevators, Dawson said. Though lack of access may not conflict with ADA guidelines, it is still an issue that has dogged freshman Dylan Baggett a few times.

Baggett is president of the Tennis Club, but he cannot access the lower tennis courts without assistance. In addition, Baggett had difficulty accessing a professor’s office and the math center, both in Andre, this semester.

“That’s the only truly inaccessible building that I’ve encountered,” Baggett said. “It was a bit of a hassle to get access to the math center, but that won’t be an issue in the future.”

Baggett had to make accommodations with Student Disability Services to access the math center outside of Andre, since it is on the second floor. Baggett understands that the campus as a whole is going through a transformation. The improvements to Andre, however, may take a few years to come to fruition, Michael Peterson, the director of the Physical Plant, said.

“That’s still on the out years,” said Peterson. “Right now we’ve got the library and John Brooks Williams under construction. And, as soon as those finish, we’re going to move on to the Chapel, Mang House, and the Alumni Gym renovations.”

The reason for the delay is in the details, Peterson said, as these construction and renovation efforts involve securing architectural firms for design, contractors for construction, moving faculty to temporary offices during construction and, of course, securing the funding.

The Chapel, Mang House and the Alumni Gym renovations are slated to begin sometime before the fall 2013 semester, Peterson said. The Physical Plant is currently negotiating with contractors but have yet to sign any papers. Typically, Peterson said, these negotiations occur closer to the deadline, with contractors and architects working together to ensure new buildings meet ADA code.

Andre’s renovation will follow in about three or four years, but funds have not yet been secured, Peterson said. The lower tennis courts, Peterson added, will not be renovated in the near future.

So, while Baggett may still have issues with access, students and faculty have helped him, and he views the campus growth as a move in the right direction.

“They’re doing a lot of construction, so they’re improving,” Baggett said. “Otherwise the campus is fairly accessible.”