By David Villegas, Reporter
The Academic Success Center (ASC), among many other offices within the university, have been moved from the first floor to the tenth floor of the Auditorium Building.
Steve Hoselton, associate vice president of campus planning and operations, felt that it was a good decision to change the location of the ASC.
“…Our focus was to help support the Academic Success Center by centralizing student resources along with new study rooms, computer labs and hangout spaces into one area with available staﬀ to assist. ASC is not just conﬁned to their oﬃce area. Students can make use of the entire 10th ﬂoor for academic support,“ Hoselton said.
He also said that Nancy Litke, the former director of the ASC, was involved in planning this move prior to her retirement over the summer.
“She worked directly with a professional architect to insure requirements for the space were met. As you know, the AUD is over 125 years old and there is always challenges and limitations in this historic building,” he said.
Courtney Tenner, a student at Roosevelt since 2014, who uses a motorized wheelchair for mobility, realized that the ASC was moving during the past spring semester.
“I do know that before Nancy Litke left, she provided input on what the space was utilized for, as well as what would be needed to help make the move succeed and be accessible for all students. However, this fell on deaf ears as the people in charge did not take those needs into consideration,” Tenner said.
She further described the struggle of trying to access the ASC in a wheelchair. Tenner said that the number of students accessing the 10th floor have substantially increased.
“In the first week alone, the shortest wait for an elevator to the 10th floor was 15 minutes. The library has always seen a decent flow of foot traffic, but now with more student services and classrooms moved to this floor, the foot traffic up here has at least tripled. It is easy for those that can use stairs to walk down one flight to catch the back elevators, but those of us in wheelchairs don’t have that option,” she said.
Tenner said she feels that those involved in the planning of the different moves did not fully consider the needs of all students.
“One of the other issues with this space is that it is way too small. The students that use this space sometimes take up more room. It is very difficult fitting in this space without being in the way. Being in a wheelchair, it is very tight to navigate. Having more than one wheelchair in the office at the same time has already been a major issue. There is simply not enough room,” she said. “Unfortunately, the people that decided to move disability services to the top floor don’t really realize the impact they have made on the students it affected. Disability services was easily accessible on the first floor, but now it is a constant struggle,” Tenner said. Tenner also brought up the fact that the space is potentially not safe.
“The rooms are very small and accessibility was not kept in mind when they were designed. I have raised the issue of this being a fire hazard, and just making it known that it was not safe. As disability services is included in this office, no one bothered to ask us or listen to what our unique needs were. The space just does not work,” Tenner said. “Unfortunately, when those that decided we had to move to a new space ask whether or not we are happy, seem to get very snippy when we say no. I have heard the justification that this space was designed by an architect. However, that doesn’t solve the problem that the needs of students are not being met.”
Tenner also mentioned that the ramp that goes down from the library only reaches measures from the 1990 ADA compliance act.
“I understand that the marketing department is moving to our old space; I do not understand why they need a centrally located, visible, accessible space,” Tenner added.
Irma Gomez, who also uses a wheelchair, said that the students who use this office did not have a say in the move and that many did not know where they were even going to move.
Gomez also said the move has made things more difficult for her as well.
“I basically have to make sure that I have everything I need from the bottom floors, like the cafeteria or CSI, before I go upstairs because it is such a hassle to get to the academic success center,” Gomez said. “Lowering the doorbell and saying that ‘it’s now accessible’ feels like they are only saying this to pat themselves on the back because there’s still plenty of other accessibility issues.”
She said that the reasoning behind the move to the tenth floor does not make sense to the ASC students.
“Although I do like the idea of having most of the student resources in one place because it does make it a great ‘one stop shop’ for students, but at the same time all of these centers are sharing a very small space where prior to this change we each had our own space,” Gomez said. ”The ASC and peer mentors had previously a very lively community filled with students of all shapes, sizes, colors and abilities and that was taken away from us. Something that RU struggles to have is a sense of community and we were one of the only offices in the building that had that established.”
Gomez also said she thinks this move could have been thought through more.
“This is something that they should’ve thought about and implemented before school started especially now that the traffic in the library has doubled. I think it’s hard for anyone to get to and from the library now, and I don’t think that was thought out enough.”
Both Tenner and Gomez expressed sentiments of extreme frustration with this move.
“As a university that is named after the only president that spent his life in a wheelchair, it is a shame that he would have to struggle to get to the office that services the people who are in similar situations that he was,” Tenner said.