The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

Why is Student Accessibility Services so Inaccessible?

After dealing with the office of Student Accessibility Services for almost a year, I decided to share my less-than-favorable experience.
Leo Kerz
Sanford Hall, one of Clark’s residential halls featuring single dorms.

When I was a freshman last year, I didn’t know just how rough the housing lottery can be. I thought I was sure to get a single dorm. It couldn’t be that hard. But less than 24 hours after the housing lottery began, all the singles were gone. 

I have anxiety. Living in a single dorm is helpful to my mental health for many reasons. Living in a double room affects my life in impactful, negative ways.

I decided to go through the Student Accessibility Services (SAS) office on campus to hopefully secure a single for my sophomore year. It was only April, so I thought there may have been a chance. If not, in the shuffling of rooms in early fall, I would likely be moved.

I secured documentation detailing my needs concerning my mental health from my therapist at the time and sent it to the Student Accessibility Services email on April 15. I received no response.

I followed up on April 26, saying, “Hi there, just following up to make sure you received my email and documentation correctly.” I received no response.

I then waited for over a month, and followed up again on May 31, saying, “Hi there. Once again attempting to follow up on this email. I look forward to your prompt response as I do not want to delay registering for accommodations any longer and frankly, I find the total lack of response offensive. Thank you.” As with many offices on campus, as soon as I sent an email with strong wording, I finally received a response the next day, on June 1.

The director of the office responded, saying, “I sincerely apologize for our lack of response – it seems your original emails got lost in the shuffle of finals at the end of the academic year. I am so very sorry!” 

I found this ridiculous, as SAS is such an important resource for students on campus, and they should have no excuse for ignoring students. The least they can do is read their email.

On June 12, I met with the Director of Student Accessibility Services over Zoom, and my accommodations were approved. I was told I would be on a priority waiting list for a single and that the office of Residential Life and Housing would take care of the next steps and, hopefully, move me to a single shortly.

I reached out to RLH for some sort of confirmation that I was on the priority list and an employee stated I was and not to worry.

So, I waited. And waited. And waited.

The fall semester passed. The spring semester arrived. I heard rumors of other students getting moved to singles. I was still stuck in my double and my anxiety was compounding due to many factors, including the inability to have a private space to cope with my symptoms.

Finally, I decided to fill out RLH’s room change form, even though I was assured that I would not have to fill out the form due to my status on the priority waitlist. However, about a week after filling out the form, I was finally reached out to by the Community Director of my dorm hall. I was told I could move into a single shortly.

So again, I waited. I received the email on February 5, and I am writing this account over a month later, on March 11. Despite being told I would be moved in “the near future,” I have still not been contacted by the occupancy team. 

This whole experience has been disappointing. But it’s also unsurprising. 

I am upset with SAS for not advocating further for the move and for taking so long to respond to my initial email, especially because there is a chance I would have been moved to a single much sooner if my accommodations had been approved in April rather than June.

I am upset with RLH for, I assume, not having an actual “priority waitlist,” or at least not taking steps to notify students of their status on said list, as well as failing to move me to a single for over half a year and after promising that I could move taking over a month to do anything about it.

The fact that these offices are supposed to support so many students with accessibility needs like me on campus yet have failed me personally time and time again is disheartening.

If you have similar experiences to me, I urge you to write a Letter to the Editor or your own opinion piece and send it to [email protected]. You are not alone.

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