The coalition of Housing and Disability Services

There is a behind-the-scenes duo working together to better Oakland University’s ever growing population.

University Housing and Disability Support Services collaborate and make new students, some of which have disabilities, feel welcome. The Housing office in particular works on placing students who wish to live on campus in the correct residence hall based on his or her needs.

Oak View Hall, Hamlin Hall and Vandenburg Hall all have some rooms that are Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. These rooms are typically for the physically impaired, meaning the room either has a transfer shower or a rolling shower for students who use a wheelchair.

However, that is not the only disability support present on campus. A few students on campus also have Emotional Support Animals, or ESAs, but these can cause some conflicts. Other students living on a floor with an ESA might be allergic to dogs or cats.

“Being flexible with different disabilities allows us to open up an opportunity for all students to come to the university,” said James Zentmeyer, director of Housing.

In order to receive assistance, the Disability Support Services office has to validate the disability in question. The process is called an intake. As an example, a student can present documentation from high school such as an IEP, also known as Individualized Education Program, or a diagnosis from a doctor.

Once the paperwork is complete, the Housing office can present options for each student. It is important to note that not every room in the dorms are ADA compliant but there is a particular number Housing is required to have.

“We want to ensure students with a disability have access to all of our local university curriculum and amenities,” said Sarah Guadalupe, Disability Support Services director.

Hillcrest Hall is the newest residence hall on campus and will be open in fall 2018. According to Zentmeyer, the ADA compliant rooms were conceived by the architect who designed the dorm. Therefore, from the beginning, they have been included in the blueprints.

Typically this comes into play when students have a physical disability. The turning radius in the living space in the dorms must be up to code so a wheelchair would have free access to movement.

The inside of the dorm is not the only design that has to be up to code. More disabled parking must become available along with sidewalk stripes and truncated domes which are the little red bumps on the ramps connected to sidewalks.

“Every case is individual and can’t be lumped together,” Zentmeyer said.

According to Guadalupe, there is a trio of disabilities which is made up of medical, mental and learning disabilities. The DSS works collaboratively with Housing so even if a student requires a specific air environment, Housing can make sure they are in Oak View Hall for air conditioning.

“There is always more to do…and building code is always changing,” Zentmeyer said.

OU is student oriented and it is important to keep up with the times with Oakland’s ever changing dynamics and personas living on campus.