Brooklyn teen with cerebral palsy says college denied his request for special dorm

PARK SLOPE, Brooklyn (WABC) -- A teenager from Brooklyn says his dream of going to college may be in jeopardy after his request for special dorm accommodations was denied.

19-year-old Nick Astor has cerebral palsy and he says he needs a live-in caregiver for basic daily tasks.

But the teen says SUNY Purchase would not give him a larger room for the both of them.

Nick has spent the summer teaching middle school students and wants to major in political science.

But he says the college can't or won't provide the dorm he needs.

While he is independent in many ways, an aide still assists him with his basic needs.

SUNY Purchase was one of Nick's top choices for college and he looked forward to attending this fall, until he learned the only dorm room he and his aide could have on campus would be a shared room with two beds and no privacy.

Although the school has other apartment-style housing, administrators cite safety concerns as one of the reasons they cannot give Nick and his aide separate adjacent rooms.

Nick and his father feel he is being denied the same college experience as everyone else. "There's something wrong with the system if it's not allowing a student with disabilities to integrate like they should," Nick said.

"We can't find people who want to live 24 hours, 7 days a week and work in the same room with somebody," said his father Michael Astor. "That Purchase doesn't get that, to me I can't even conceive of."

Dennis Craig, Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment for SUNY Purchase. released the following statement: "Purchase College has a long history of accommodating students with disabilities in campus housing, including those with aides. While we make an individualized assessment of each student's situation to ensure that an accommodation is reasonable, in cases where the student has an aide we generally provide a double room."

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released a statement Wednesday night urging the college to accommodate Nick with appropriate housing.

"All students have a right to pursue a higher education regardless of disability," said Cuomo. "I applaud Nick Astor for his achievements and resolve, and I have urged SUNY Purchase to accommodate him. College is key to achieving the American dream, and in New York we are committed to helping make that dream a reality, with equal opportunity for all."

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