November 5, 2019

Burton-Judson Courts Construction Reflect University Move to Improve Campus Buildings Accessibility

The ongoing construction at Burton-Judson Courts is part of the University’s plans to increase access to campus buildings. The College is including improved access in the design of both the new Student Wellness Center and the Woodlawn Commons Residence Hall, which will have facilities that should meet mobility and communication accessibility requirements.

Construction to improve disabled access in the west entrance of Burton-Judson Courts began on June 3. The University installed a ramp and surface-mounted door operators at the dorm’s main entrance, widening doors, and provided wheelchair access in the lobby to increase ease of access from the street level into the courtyard space of Burton-Judson Courts. The previous ramp “was far to steep for a wheelchair or anyone who can’t use stairs,” said The Organization for Students with Disabilities (OSD) in a statement to The Maroon.


The newly renovated entryway to Burton-Judson Courts.

Oren Oppenheim / The Chicago Maroon

OSD also emphasized that the new renovations only helped with access to the courtyard, as “in order to get into any of the houses or either of the libraries one must go up several sets of stairs. So while this is a start, we have a long way to go before we can truly consider BJ accessible.” New construction plans are in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, which aims to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life. Many on-campus buildings are not ADA compliant, causing issues for students with disabilities.

According to a statement sent to The Maroon  by Gerald McSwiggan, the Assistant Director for Public Affairs, “The University of Chicago is dedicated to ensuring that students with disabilities can fully participate in the life of the University” and is “committed to maintaining an accessible campus.”

These construction projects will follow the College’s set of “ Accessibility Plus ” standards which aim to have campus facilities exceed minimum legal requirements for disabled access.

In a statement sent to The Maroon, The Organization for Students with Disabilities (OSD) said that it was excited about the renovations but “disappointed it has taken the University this long to take such a simple step” as Burton-Judson Courts is almost 100 years old.

OSD continued on to say that it “acknowledge[s] all of the disabled students whose vocal & persistent advocacy undoubtedly played a part in this.”

Clarification on Nov. 6, 2019, 5:20 p.m. CST:

This article has been changed to include comment from OSD.