A disabled parking spot sign outside of the Educational Communications Center. Nearly 700 students from the School of Social Welfare signed a petition titled, “Help Make the School of Social Welfare More Inclusive & Accessible.” SARA RUBERG/STATESMAN FILE

Students from the School of Social Welfare organized a petition titled, “Help Make the School of Social Welfare More Inclusive & Accessible” last month.

Nearly 700 students have signed the petition to add handicap accessibility buttons to the two entrance doors to the School of Social Welfare.

“The School of Social Welfare shares a commitment to diversity and thus to addressing any ways in which our institution creates obstacles to diversity,” the petition states. “Currently, the doors to the School of Social Welfare are inaccessible to people who have physical disabilities. As students, faculty, and staff at the School of Social Welfare, the Health Sciences and the larger Stony Brook University, we urge you to match our reality to our institution’s ideals!”

MJ Smart, a first year graduate student studying social work who organized the petition, said that the school “[needs] to reflect our values.”

“We’re focused on social justice, and at the end of the day, that’s what social workers are about more so than anything else,” she said. “We are about removing barriers that people face when they’re trying to succeed in life. We’re about removing barriers of oppression and alienation and discrimination, and we can’t talk the talk. We have to walk the walk, and it has to start with our school.”

Smart credited Dylan Mangano, a first year graduate student studying social work, for being very involved in the promotion of the petition. He said that all students should have access to and feel welcome at the school. 

“In the most ideal scenario, the door would become handicap accessible,” he wrote in an email. “This may not be [the] thing [that] spurs the change that we seek. It may only be a step, but it is also a reminder that the community has not only a voice, but also expectations.” 

The petition is addressed to Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, dean of the Stony Brook Renaissance School of Medicine, but Smart said the petition hasn’t been sent to him yet. She wants to reach 1,000 signatures before she sends it to him. 

Though the dean hasn’t received the petition yet, Stony Brook University media relations officer Lauren Sheprow said the Facilities Office in the Health Sciences Center “has been working on this project since it was brought to their attention and sought three quotes on costs for automating the door.”

“Once that process is completed, the door will be ordered and installed,” she wrote in an email. “This project is estimated to be completed in about six weeks, commencing very near to the opening of Spring semester.”

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