Over the summer, renovations were made to the exterior entrance of the Ina Dillard Library facing the Arts and Science building to make it more accessible for students. The two steps leading up to the doors were removed and replaced with a concrete sidewalk, and the parking spaces next to the library were also removed.
Accoring to David Anderson, director of the Student Disability Resource Center, these changes have been in the works since 2013 but were lower on the priority list since there was a small ramp that still made the entrance accessible. They also were waiting until funding was available.
“The original design is from the early 2000’s,” said Michael Rickenbaker, university architect. “If you were using a wheelchair, you’d notice the steps and have to find an alternative route by using the ramp off to the side. This wasn’t very user-friendly.”
Now, it’s just a sidewalk that connects the entrance of the library to the main walkway.
“The idea that you have to show monumentality by having those two steps is not monumental at all,” Rickenbaker said.
The parking spaces next to the library were removed as well because they were more dangerous than helpful. These spaces were ADA spaces, or in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
“During class change, we have way too many students in the area for cars to be backing in and out,” Rickenbaker said. “Working with David Anderson and the state ADA Coordinator, we decided it was extremely dangerous, and the spaces needed to be removed.”
There are ADA spaces on the other side of the street and other places on campus to make up for these spaces being removed.
Making the GC campus more accessible is very important to Anderson.
“One of the things we pride ourselves on is that we’re an old, historic university, but we’re doing really good work to make these buildings that have been here way longer than us accessible for all students,” Anderson said.
These changes did not go unnoticed by students on campus, particularly those that it previously negatively affected.
“When I found out that the steps were going to be replaced, my eyes lit up,” said junior Oliver Carnazzo, an exercise science major, who uses a wheelchair to get around campus. “Few people get as excited about at sidewalks as I do. When I enter and exit the library now, I feel powerful. I feel equal because I can use the same sidewalk everyone else does. It removes some of the little inconveniences that plague me every day.”
Plans are in place to make changes to other buildings on campus. As Terrell Hall is being renovated, Disability Services is planning out how to make the building accessible.