The notoriously unreliable wheelchair lift in the Common Connection office in Wilson Commons should be replaced by the week’s end, according to Laura Ballou, Assistant Dean for Student Life Operations.
The new self-service lift will not be in the office, but instead on the other side of the ground floor of Wilson Commons, near the women’s bathroom. The new location will place the lift closer to the ramp outside of the building.
The current lift has a reputation for inconvenience — sometimes it breaks down, other times it makes a screeching sound, there’s no barrier, beyond a foot-long lip on the back of the platform to prevent someone from falling off, and a worker always needs to be at the bottom to operate it.
Senior Giuliano Castro, who uses a wheelchair, told the Campus Times that the location of the current lift is an issue for him.
“It’s inside like an office,” said Castro, “so it’s not always open. If I come here late at night I cannot go through there because the door’s just closed.”
Castro said that sometimes he’ll access the building by using the ramp in front of Douglass Hall to get to the side entrance, but if he’s coming from the Goergen Athletic Center across from there, the alternative route can be exhausting. The other option is to go through Rettner.
Ballou said that the old lift has been at the University for at least as long as she has (around 18 years), and that alternatives were being discussed as far back as 2007.
The discussions between representatives of Facilities, Wilson Commons Student Activities (WCSA), and the Office of the Dean of Students culminating in the current construction began in 2018, according to Ballou.
In order to have the new system built, they had construction firms bid on the project — which means that the firms would offer to do the job and name their prices for the staff to pick.
The initial plan had been for construction to take place last summer, said Arts, Science, and Engineering Senior Operations Officer Greg Meyer, but when the bids came in far higher than expected, they decided to push it back to winter.
Meyer added that the cost was covered mostly by the Office of the Dean of Students, with Facilities and SA contributing as well.
“SA is proud to help push this initiative in partnership with WCSA,” said SA President senior Jamal Holtz. “And we will continue to actively work and research ways we can make the campus more accessible to all.”