UWEC Approves Demolition of Only Lower Campus Dorms

UWEC Alumni Ashlie Fanetti Speaks About the Importance of Universally Accessible Housing on College Campuses

Kiara Jackson

More stories from Kiara Jackson


“You can’t be completely inclusive to people with disabilities if your not also accessible”

On March 16, UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt ran a sledgehammer into the side of one of UW- Eau Claire’s lower campus dorms, Putnam Hall.

According to the UW-Eau Claire Website, starting this summer, demolition of both Putnam Hall and Katharine Thomas Hall will begin with the new science building estimated to be finished by the fall of the 2022/2023 school year. 

During his display Chancellor Schmidt discussed the importance of science in today’s society. With the world amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, during the ceremony, Schmidt said the building could play a key role in helping during such trying times.

UW-Eau Claire Alumni Ashlie Fanetti, however, has said some concerns regarding the demolition of the two buildings, and what this may mean for people with disabilities.

Having Graduated in December of 2021, Fanetti is a former student at UW-Eau Claire who said she struggles with the university’s inability to listen to students with disabilities. 

As someone with cerebral palsy, Fanett said she has felt unheard at the university and feels that  it fails to listen to its students with disabilities, and that this is just another instance of the university not thinking of its students with disabilities.

“I understand why they are building the science hall,” Fanettie said. “I do not understand why they had to knock down the only ounce of accessible housing they had on campus to do it.”

UW-Eau Claire  has been pushing for and advertising as an EDI friendly campus, however, according to Fanetti the campus fails to take action when hearing the concerns of their diverse students and students with disabilities. 

“My issue with the university is that they talk a lot about EDI, but have to realize that in order to have EDI, part of EDI is inclusivity, and you can’t be completely inclusive to people with disabilities if you’re not also accessible,” Fanetti said.

Fanetti said the demolition of these buildings will cause an abundance of issues for students with disabilities. 

“It ruins their equal access to education because the only other university sponsored housing that they have is one fully ADA apartment in AMH on Water street,” Fanetti said.

Accessible housing is something that many students with disabilities have struggled with on many college campuses. Fanetti said when she first heard rumors of the possible demolition she was worried so much not only about her education but also her living situation.

“I remember when I first heard that they were going to build that science hall over KT, I cried- like real tears,” Fanetti said. “I was in my dorm in KT and I was like ‘do I have to worry about being homeless next semester?’”

Fanetti said she would be more accepting of the demolition of the lower campus dorms if the campus had plans to replace these dorms with more lower campus accessible housing. 

“At this point I don’t think there is any stopping them from taking down KT and Putnam,” Fanetti said. “But if you’re going to knock it down, have a plan in place to replace it, or figure out another place for people with disabilities to go to.”

Jackson can be reached at [email protected]