Every day, students utilize Alma College’s facilities to get around campus efficiently and safely. Though the college in many ways tries to accommodate students to make buildings assessable to everyone, there are many areas that are lacking.
Whether it be from lack of elevators in certain dorm buildings, nonfunctioning handicap doors or lack of accessible furniture, students have felt these elements are not reflected in Alma’s mission to be inclusive to the whole community.
Alma College’s facilities department is in charge of overseeing the safety and functionality of the buildings around campus.
“Our number-one priority and function is to ensure the safety and security of the student body; along with faculty, and staff,” said Ryan Stoudt, Director of Facilities.
Though the campus works to constantly improve accessibility around the school, there are several areas of improvement that the school has been lacking in.
The school is required to follow all American with Disabilities Act (ADA) which ensures that all Americans can enjoy all facilities of any public place.
“Any time we renovate areas on campus that do not currently support accessibility, it is added to the scope of work. We recognize this is not only a need for our campus but is also required that we comply with the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Stoudt.
Though the buildings may be up to standards with the ADA, myself and numerous members of the Alma College community have several grievances with the facilities’ accessibility.
One of the most frustrating aspects of the school is the lack of elevators in various dorm buildings around campus. Students with disabilities are accommodated by being moved to a dorm building that has first floor housing with no need to utilize stairs; however, if this student wants to visit their friends room they are unable to do so.
Additionally, elderly family members who come to visit their grandchildren are unable to go and view the student’s room because there is no assessable way to get up three flights of stairs.
“A lot of improvements to accessibility are on the radar but they are all financially big investments,” said Julia Tang, Assistant Director of Diversity and Inclusion. “There are changes as we go but other changes such as implementing elevators will be a slow process on trying to decide where to allocate money.”
At Alma College, there are numerous students who have disabilities that need various accommodations so they can properly enjoy the amenities here. However, these accommodations sometimes are not made promptly and can take several weeks to materialize.
“When I asked my disability services advocate, Betsy Strobel, about this she said I could request a shower chair be installed. I promptly did but did not hear back from Facilities for several days,” said Brooke Rafko (’23). “About a month after my initial request – and several others during the interim facilities finally brought a shower chair.”
One feature around campus that should be spotlighted more should be the location of emergency health equipment. Students are given no education as to where these machines are located in case of emergency.
“Last year I experienced heart palpitations and the school’s emergency medical staff was called to my dorm. However, the defibrillator that was meant to be on the wall in Bruske was nowhere to be found,” said Rafko.
Overall, the school is slowly making progress on making the campus more assessable, but there is much work to be done.