By David Ford
Uncertainty still lingers over the Office of Disability Services’s upcoming move from Wood Street to its new location at Youngstown State University.
Disability services were initially scheduled to move into a space on the second floor of Kilcawley Center. The scheduled date to move in was Aug. 1, which was eventually moved back to sometime in September. As of now, the move-in date is unknown.
Gina McGranahan, the assistant director of disability services, said the uncertainty surrounding the scheduled move-in date has been frustrating.
“We [faculty] can do our jobs anywhere, but it would be more convenient for our students,” McGranahan said. “We were told we were going to move and haven’t yet. I do not know when we will.”
YSU planned for disability services to relocate to Kilcawley Center several months back, making it a more centralized and convenient location for students with disabilities to receive necessary help. The current location on Wood St. and its distance from central campus was a primary reason YSU suggested relocating the department.
Neil McNally, the vice president for finance and administration at YSU, said the Wood Street location was originally chosen to house for disability services for various reasons.
“Disability services’ current location is partially the result of an outdated mindset, shared by some stakeholders, that a central location like Kilcawley Center was undesirable because there could be a stigma associated with using services in that area,” McNally said.
McNally said the current location already had essential items in place for disability services to operate, such as restrooms large enough to accommodate chair lifts. At the time, he said an “off the beaten path” location was most preferred.
The opinion on where disability services should operate changed over time, causing YSU to decide on a location change. As for when the move will take place, McNally provided an optimistic update.
“In my opinion, the new location will be a huge improvement,” McNally said. “While no one likes delays, the students ought to be pleased the new and improved location is coming in the very near future.”
McNally said in the midst of all the planning and renovations, the students who need disability services have the right to be discouraged.
“I certainly wouldn’t blame anyone for feeling frustrated,” McNally said. “I am optimistic, however, that the new location will be move-in ready during the current fall semester.”
YSU is waiting to hear back from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission in order to get their renovation plans approved. According to McNally, the renovations will take about four to six weeks to complete, depending on how soon the OFCC acts to approve the renovation and construction plans.
While there’s optimism surrounding completion and relocation, McGranahan said the uncertainty on the move-in date has affected the students who need disability services.
“Each student has been affected differently,” McGranahan said. “It’s important to us that we get the service each and every student needs. Not knowing when we’ll move certainly has affected them.”
Anthony Hartwig, a YSU student who uses disability services, said the delay has been frustrating for him and his peers.
“I feel [that] making sure people with disabilities get what they need in a convenient manner should be a top priority for the university. It surely doesn’t feel like it is at the moment,” Hartwig said.
Hartwig said the current building is inadequate for the students’ needs and that he hopes the delay doesn’t last much longer than it already has.