Marco Salinas
Mercury Staff

Proposal to move to space in Administration Building touts more ground level accessible entrances

University officials made a request to relocate the Office
of Student AccessAbility from the third floor of the Student Services Building.

Gene Fitch, vice president of Student Affairs, said a room
in the Administration Building has been proposed as the new location for OSA.
The new location is expected to be more accessible than the current location in
the Student Services Building.

Laura Smith, associate dean for health and wellness
initiatives, said that multiple factors led to the request to relocate.

“We are looking to move to a location that has closer
accessible parking that also can be accessed without the use of an elevator —
so a ground floor access point,” Smith said. “And then also just a larger
space, so a space that could accommodate more full-time offices and potentially
a couple more testing spaces for students.”

The prospective location is in the west wing of the
Administration Building on the second floor. Fitch said despite being on the
second floor, there are still two ground-level entrance points.

Smith said she hopes the relocation will come during the
spring semester, but that moving in the middle of a semester before finals
could disrupt some of the services offered by the office.

The space is as large or larger than the existing space.
Fitch also said that renovations would have to be made if the proposal is
approved, but he is not sure how long they would take.

“Students have certainly expressed desire to have (the) OSA
move to a more accessible location,” Smith said. “There certainly have been
complaints that if the elevator is out then it’s very difficult to get there,
that it seems crowded … that’s hard to hear, that sometimes they can’t use the
space, or it is difficult (to get to it). That’s the exact opposite of what you
want.”

Fitch said the accessibility of the location is also
important for emergencies.

“If there happened to be an emergency while we had students
who needed physical accommodations or had physical disabilities in that office,
it’s difficult to get them from the third floor to the second floor or even the
first floor to exit the building,” Fitch said.

Kerry Tate, the director of the Office of Student
Accessibility, declined to comment on the relocation, as the request is still
pending.

The committee for campus accessibility released a memo in
support of the relocation. The OSA’s staff was also supportive of the move,
Fitch said.

“The important piece for people to understand is that this
is a proposal,” Fitch said. “We’ve requested the space, the request for the
space is supported by the Office of Student AccessAbility, so now at this
point, we’re just in the waiting mode.”