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Ryan Hall promotes accessibility in dorm community

| Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Ryan Hall is one of Notre Dame’s newest additions to campus, approaching its 10-year anniversary as a residence hall.

Although Ryan may not yet have the history of the older dorms, rector Liz Palmer said this does not take away from the dorm’s community. 

“The Ryan Hall community is so spirited and welcoming, and I really love our mission of disability justice and being an advocate for those with handicaps,” Palmer said. “We have a great group of individuals who want to be involved.” 

Ryan is one of Notre Dame’s most accessible dorms, Palmer said.

“Our building is built in the spirit of accommodation,” Palmer said. “Everything was designed, from having two elevators, to the carpet on the floor to the textures on the walls … to aid people who might be physically handicapped or visually handicapped. So, the aim is to serve them as well as our community.”

Palmer said the dorm’s commitment to accessibility is also visible in its annual events, such as Wheelchair Basketball, where students play basketball games in wheelchairs to raise money for a group called Whirlwind Wheelchair International, a company that distributes wheelchairs to those in need.

Junior Alyssa Daly, who served as the dorm’s 2018-2019 president, said Ryan also boasts a strong sense of community and family. 

“I guess everyone says it, but I think it is one of the greatest communities on this campus,” Daly said. “Every single person I’ve met just welcomes you with open arms, and I think we’re so much about family and welcoming others.”

Daly said this sense of community was something she wanted to strengthen in her time as dorm president.

“We decided to focus a lot on senior involvement — both on and off campus — and then just strengthening events and helping all of our new members to kind of understand what Ryan is and how we want to see it grow in the future,” she said.

Ryan also hosts other events to foster community within the dorm and across campus. The hall holds “FJ” events with Ryan Hall’s priest-in-residence Fr. Joe Carey most Tuesday nights, Daly said.

“Every Tuesday, a section of Ryan is welcome to [Carey’s] apartment just talk to one another, and then at 11 [p.m.], everyone from all over campus is welcome to come and talk to him,” Daly said.  

In the future, the women of Ryan will continue to work on fostering community and advocating for those with disabilities, Daly said.

“I think that they’re going in a lot of the same directions, continuing to keep strengthening what we already have,” she said. “We want our events to be as big and as great as things like the Keenan Revue.”

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