Accessibility to a comfortable and accessible living situation should be the standard, not a luxury, for all students on Kansas State University’s campus, said Jason Maseberg-Tomlinson, director of the Student Access Center.
While many students are able to walk up the front stairs to their residence hall, some students with disabilities and injuries don’t have this freedom.
Maseberg-Tomlinson said the Student Access Center places an emphasis on working with these students in addition to following all federal requirements that go into building residential spaces.
To determine the best living situation for a student with a disability, Maseberg-Tomlinson said “it’s a very interactive process where we work with the individual directly to make sure we understand all the nuances of their needs.”
As circumstances like injuries come up for students during the year, the Student Access Center responds quickly to student concerns about necessary accommodations, he said.
Jyvon Piper-Flowers, sophomore in computer science, fractured his fibula last semester in a longboarding accident. While he had some problems navigating Moore Hall on crutches, he said the Student Access Center was helpful in getting him adjusted and providing rides to and from class.
“It was pretty tough,” Piper-Flowers said. “It’s a pretty long distance from my room to the Derb, especially on crutches, so it was pretty tiring.”
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The Derby Dining Center is elevator accessible, so while Piper-Flowers said he didn’t always feel up for the trek, he could make it to eat meals with his floor when he wanted to.
Maseberg-Tomlinson said he is confident that all residence halls at K-State provide opportunities for students with disabilities and injuries to live and get around comfortably.
“I think it would be quite surprising for folks to realize how accommodating all of the residence halls can be, including Jardine,” Maseberg-Tomlinson said.
He said K-State recognizes that living experiences are different for each student. From wheelchair accessibility, to alert systems for the hearing or visually impaired, Maseberg-Tomlinson said the Student Access Center has talented staff who go into the residence halls and make changes as needed.
Nicholas Lander, associate director of Housing and Dining Services, said accessibility is a high priority as new buildings continue to pop up on campus.
“With Wefald being a brand new building, it’s going to have the most modern accessibility you can have,” Lander said. “But our hope is that we have accessible options everywhere so that students don’t necessarily have to live in a specific location.”
Lander said that while campus is generally very accessible, there are some exceptions. The Smurthwaite Scholarship and Leadership House and the Honors House are the only two residential buildings on campus without elevators, essentially excluding students with various physical disabilities.
Maseberg-Tomlinson said that while some buildings do pose challenges for students with disabilities, his hope is to provide equal access to education and resources to all students.
As the K-State campus continues to grow, Lander said accessibility remains important for both students and the administration that supports them.
“Continuing to modernize as we continue to add and renovate new buildings is definitely a priority,” Lander said.
Students with disabilities or injuries can reach out to the Student Access Center online or by phone at 785-532-6441 to work toward getting their needs met.