In the fall semester of 2021, Nick Shelley (‘21) founded Access Lasell. His mission was to make campus more accessible to all members of the community. This past fall, Lasell created the Accessibility Improvement Team as an effort to create accessibility changes on campus. The group consists of faculty, staff, a representative of Residential Life, and Accessibility Services. Since then, Shelley and the Accessibility Improvement Team have made great strides to improve accessibility on campus.
The team, which meets on a monthly basis, is aiming to “be responsive to student concerns,” according to Interim Director of Accessibility Services Steve Hawthorne on behalf of the team.
Hawthorne said that the university is changing to “Accessibility Services” instead of the old “Disability Services” as they work to widen the focus of helping students overcome accessibility changes.
“We are charged with the stewardship of the physical and mental well-being of Lasell students, and that includes opportunities of access for all students,” Hawthorne said.
Last semester Shelley and the Accessibility Improvement Team pushed to resolve major issues such as broken elevators and door buttons around campus. The East Hall elevator was out of commission last semester, but has since been repaired and put back into operation.
One of Shelley’s short-term goals from last semester was to install new door buttons on campus. According to senior accounting and finance major Michael Palumbo, a member of the Accessibility Improvement Team and Student Government Association (SGA) Vice President of Financial Affairs, Shelley’s goal for the door buttons is coming to fruition.
“Coming in the next week, the door buttons are going to be fixed and reworked, so there's going to be one put in de Witt and the ones in Valentine are going to be fixed again,” Palumbo said.
“There's also a door between Valentine and Woodland that students can go through that's being fixed for wheelchair accessibility, so that you can press the button that previously wasn't working.”
Palumbo also mentioned that work will be done in Woodland on the same day as the door buttons to help an individual who struggles with accessibility.
Despite the improvements the school has made, Shelley is still waiting for more to be done. “About achieving goals I set for myself and Lasell, I can't say they’ve been met just yet. In Fall of 2021 I personally demanded of the senior management team that door buttons be installed at every important entrance before Spring 22 semester,” Shelley said. “It's Fall 22 now and we have gained only four door buttons. Don't get me wrong, it's a step forward, but it's plainly still not enough. At Lasell, we still have not met the bare minimum bar for accessibility.”
Shelley believes that it is more than possible to make Lasell accessible for all. “I mean, it's 100% possible. Like it's something we could do. It's just the willpower to get it done,” Shelley said.