The New Shain Library Entrance
As a former Connecticut College faculty member and longtime library user, I was delighted when Shain Library reopened ahead of schedule. As I approached the remodeled building for the first time, however, I was dismayed to see that the former easy slope to the entrance had been replaced by three formidable stone steps, with no wheelchair ramp in sight. I knew there must be a ramp—it’s a legal mandate—and sure enough, as I got closer I saw it off to my left—way off: the ramp entrance is well over 100 feet from the stairs that nondisabled patrons use. I can’t think of another instance of an academic building being expensively remodeled and made less wheelchair accessible.
It would have been quite easy to place the ramp entrance just to the left of the steps and have it double back. This would make for a much shorter detour and send a very different message to those with mobility impairments. The current configuration hardly seems consistent with the College’s purported ideals of “equity and inclusion.”
G. Thomas Couser
Professor of English and Director of Disability Studies emeritus
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY