by Wendy Rolfe, D.M.A.
Vice President of Part-Time Faculty, Berklee Faculty Union
Have you visited the Berklee Counseling Center and Health and Wellness Center recently, at 54 and 32 The Fenway? Did you notice that they are not Universally Accessible? The Berklee Faculty Union will be meeting on Thursday with the administration to present our concerns about this situation, and to discuss when the College will make these important offices fully accessible to all. We will be expressing how passionately we feel about this, and that we hope to work together with the College to find solutions.
Members of our community and visitors who are on crutches, were recovering from knee surgery, have a visual impairment, or who use a wheelchair have not been able to get down the narrow, winding stairs at the offices' basement entrances.
Generally, the legal requirement is that "reasonable accommodations" be made in order to meet the standards for "Universal Access", and those required by the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1992. Now, students, faculty, visitors (including parents) with mobility concerns must book an appointment in advance, for another location. As we know, this isn't always possible. For instance, we know that our faculty help students in crisis by taking them over to the Counseling Center. And, we don't always know in advance that this will be necessary. Students arrive at the offices for appointments, or for assistance, without realizing they may need to book ahead. Or, parents who are helping their offspring sometimes arrive at these buildings....only to find they can't get down the stairs.
The Health and Wellness Center website states that their mission is..."to create safe, compassionate, healing, inclusive spaces that inspire learning, positive growth, and global citizenship" (our italics). Let's work together with the College to make these offices truly welcoming, and fully accessible to all.
We'll keep you posted.