Washington Square News | Surviving housing of New York University

“I feel like a whale in SeaWorld.”

Mendoza Mendoza, who has severe scoliosis combined with an inner right thigh and chronic pain, said they “jumped through permanent hoops” just to have their voice heard when it comes to housing at New York University. As a freshman at the School of Global Public Health, she lives in New York University’s living space, as recommended to all freshmen. The administration, however, far from meeting her needs. Elevators are often not repaired in dormitories, and the lack of accessible ramps and bathrooms is worrying in educational buildings.

She is not the only one who feels that way. It can be difficult to balance the pressure of completing assignments, finding internships, and preparing for exams; the struggle for housing should be the least of a student’s worries. However, NYU does not single it out in abundance resources are sufficient for the comfort and well-being of students.

Mendoza has limited capabilities that require careful planning of daily affairs, such as determining how long it will take to get somewhere before the onset of pain, or deciding whether a secular event is worthwhile.

She was given a dormitory in the university hall complete with an accessible bathroom. But this was given to her only after she had “fought hard enough for it,” despite being in contact with her accessibility specialist.

Lack of housing is not limited to a dormitory room. Elevator breakdowns – a common occurrence in the university hall – are a serious problem for residents with disabilities. Mendoza’s trip to class takes time because of her disability, which means she leaves early. Due to the delay in the elevator her commute to work is even longer and more difficult.

“There is no such thing as an accessible world,” Mendoza said. “I think it would be more important for New York University to contact different people about whether they need affordable housing, rather than the people who need to turn to them.”

Through Moses Student Accessibility CenterThe Reasonable Accommodation Committee reviews housing weekly, but some students do not receive responses to their requests for accommodation for several months.

NYU requires randomized housing for first-year students, which can be an additional source of stress for those struggling with mental health. Daniel Strasberg, a freshman at CAS, found herself in this situation, so in October 2021 she asked to be transferred to a single room. She received no response for three months, until January 2022.

After finally receiving housing four months after her initial request, she was not offered any relocation assistance. Instead, she was forced to move her belongings with the help of friends across the muddy snow from Weinstein Hall to the Third Avenue North residence – a distance of half a mile.

Tish freshman Julia Gruen also asked for housing that frees her from casual housing.

“I suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, which makes it difficult for me to live with anyone,” she said.

Despite her best efforts, she was unable to obtain housing and had to adjust to living with someone who was essentially a stranger, while managing her mental health in a whole new environment.

For Anneliez Foltz, a freshman at CAS, the biggest concern is the lack of private therapy rooms at the university. With three other roommates in her room, therapeutic sessions dramatically “lose performance” due to a lack of privacy.

Improving mental health can begin with eliminating the lack of long-term therapy at New York University. NEW offers short-term counseling, but it is insufficient to treat current conditions.

In addition to mental health issues, NYU is struggling to adapt to food allergies.

CAS freshman Scarlett Pijo has suffered almost all her life from life-threatening food allergies to peanuts, wood nuts, soybeans, sesame seeds, legumes and apples. Since then, she has learned to navigate restaurants, cafeterias and grocery stores, figuring out what she can eat and what she can’t. But the problems are spreading beyond canteens and dormitories.

When Pijo came to New York University, she knew she would not be able to enjoy the canteen like other students. The university could not guarantee that some products would be completely safe. The only solution NYU could offer was the only dorm room.

In the end, Pijo was placed in the suit of the university hall with a kitchen, and she realized that she needed to focus on another issue: the neighbors in the room are preparing products to which she is allergic. Perhaps a solution might be to associate students with similar allergies to minimize the risk of allergic reactions.

Although New York was aware of her circumstances and even housed her in one dormitory, Pijo was still required to purchase a nutrition plan as she the first year.

“Salad bars are the safest for me because I see food outdoors and they are in separate containers,” Pijo said. “But I can’t eat salad all the time.”

Because of her disabilities, she had to look elsewhere, leaving no options other than spending extra money on food outside the university canteens – which could quickly happen.

Pijo is certainly not the only freshman with a food allergy, and certainly not the only student who believes that eating in New York restaurants is difficult financially. Perhaps New York University could give students a budget for out-of-campus diners that are more adaptable to allergies – just like the university donated Grubhub gift cards to quarantined students if NYU Eats failed to provide adequate nutrition.

The Moses Center is responsible for student accommodation, housing, and other locations at the university. They did not respond to requests for comment. Finding a home at New York University is no easy task. Everyone deserves the opportunity to persevere and express themselves. Lack of proper premises should not prevent this.

Contact Cat Howard at [email protected]

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