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The Scarlet & Black

Younker to undergo renovation

Renovation on Younker Hall to improve the building’s accessibility will begin this summer. These renovations include the addition of an elevator and a ramp on the northeast side of the building.

The ramp will extend from street level to Younker Pit, leading to an entrance that will allow direct access to Pit-level rooms and the Stonewall Resource Center (SRC). The entrance to the elevator will allow access to all floors of Younker, making the entire Hall accessible.

The SRC,  located in the basement of Younker, has been criticized in the past for its inaccessibility. Director of Residence Life Joe Rolon wrote in an email to The S&B that “accessibility into all parts of Younker, including the Stonewall Resource Center, is very important. With the ramp, all students including those with mobility issues will be able to access the SRC and the building.”

SRC Leader Ric Tennenbaum ’18 expressed appreciation for the renovation, but emphasized that more needs to be done to make SRC fully accessible.

“It’s really exciting to get the elevator in Younker! I am happy that there will now be elevator access into the SRC, but I will still be far from satisfied in terms of the SRC’s accessibility,” Tennenbaum wrote in an email to The S&B.

She stated that the SRC’s location creates a host of other accessibility issues: “It’s still in the basement of Younker, a chemically inaccessible building for many folks who either cannot enter Younker or hang out for extended periods of time … We will still also be inaccessible to faculty and staff who cannot swipe into Younker Hall, and that breaks my heart. We’re in a small city surrounded by very little population density; pulling together all of our queer community — faculty, staff, college students, high school students, community members — for larger more intergenerational sharing of space is something we need to be doing. We need to be sharing stories, resources and experiences, but as the SRC exists in a dorm basement this cannot happen.”

Most of the renovation will take place over June, July and August, while students are out of the hall for summer vacation. Rolon wrote that the renovation process is forecasted to continue into the early part of Fall Semester. However, construction will only occur during the school day, not in the early morning before class or in the evening.

Although project planners have tried to minimize the impact renovations will have on the lives of students next semester, the plans for construction have affected students’ living options.

“The planned renovation did impact this year’s room draw process,” Rolon wrote. “With the elevator being built into Younker, some rooms have been taken permanently off-line and others will be temporarily off-line so as not to inconvenience students with noise and construction. The rooms that are temporarily off-line will become available once the construction has ended.”

According to Rolon, students who selected to move into Younker were made aware of the upcoming renovation process before signing up, and those staffing the Younker table during Room Draw also provided students with relevant information.

Beyond room selection options, the installation of an elevator will have significant effects on the operation of the SRC for at least the beginning of next semester.

The elevator’s construction will take away some of the SRC’s space to make an access corridor. As a result, the SRC will downsize their library, and temporarily move into the Younker computer lab.

The one room lab is a much smaller space than the current multiple rooms in the SRC, which include a drag closet, trans clothing swap closet, meeting/chilling room, work area, library and office space.

“I am bummed that new students will not be met with a fully-functioning SRC when they first arrive here. That kind of thing — arriving as a queer student to be met with a temporary and only partially-functioning queer resource center — sends a message to new students about the kind of support and resources offered here,” Tennenbaum wrote. “I want to affirm that I am very happy about the elevator construction in Younker and how the administration has decided to put more resources into accessible housing. Yet, so long as the SRC occupies a basement room in a dorm building, our accessibility will be severely limited.”

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