Disabled teen says college not accommodating his needs

Cerebral palsy has done little to dampen Nick Astor's dreams. The 19-year-old Park Slope resident aims to be a standup comedian after going to college. Getting accepted at SUNY Purchase was the first step towards achieving that goal.

Nick said he needs to go to college to get an education and then get a job so he can be a productive and integrated member of society.

But just three weeks before school was to begin, a curveball was thrown. Since Nick needs a live-in caregiver, his family was expecting SUNY Purchase to provide housing in the form of two separate rooms—one for Nick and another for the caregiver—even if the rooms are part of the same unit.

SUNY Purchase offered a wheelchair-accessible double room with its own bath at no additional charge to accommodate both Nick and his caregiver. But that didn't work.

Michael Astor, Nick's father, said you shouldn't have to be forced to live and work with someone else 24/7.

SUNY Purchase said it works with hundreds of students with disabilities, including ones just like Nick that require aides. The college said Nick has been offered the same accommodations and that putting an aide in a second room would jeopardize Nick's access to help in case of emergency.

Maria McGinley, who specializes in disability law, said the law requires that Nick is given the same access as other students but that a separate room may not be a clear-cut issue.

The Astor family is against Nick living off campus even if that means he and the aide would get two rooms. His family wants him to experience campus life just like students without disabilities.