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Campus infrastructure lacks needed accommodations for disabled students, staff, and visitors

By Andrew Mondragon, ‘19

Walking to class on campus on any given day, I would take for granted the fact that I am healthy. One night I was playing intramural soccer and broke my ankle. Now I have to wear a boot and use crutches to go everywhere. With the addition of crutches to my everyday life, I have started to notice the lack of accommodations on campus for someone with physical disabilities.

I write this to bring to light the problems on campus because while my injury is temporary and will heal with time, someone else may have the same struggles permanently.

The biggest problem with campus for me is doors that don’t have assisted opening. The library has two sets of doors to enter the building. There is an assisted opening button, but it only opens the first set of doors and does not open the second. When I’m exiting the building I hit the button and it only opens the first door and then I have to struggle to push open the second door without falling over. Resident halls don’t have any way to open the doors either.

The second struggle would be the stairs around campus. Living in Oceans Hall on the second floor makes everyday a struggle. Anytime I have to go to class or want to go to my room, I have to spend five minutes climbing the stairs taking it one step at a time. It’s mostly an annoyance for me, but if there is anyone trying to go up or down the stairs at the same time I feel bad for them because I move so slowly. The stairs at Kirkham are the worst because the building has an elevator but it doesn’t even work; I’m stuck taking the stairs while a whole group of students wait because the staircase is so narrow no one else can pass me. Climbing stairs is tough because it causes fatigue quickly. When I want to take a break, I can’t because people behind me are waiting.

These problems aren’t terrible because they are temporary, but if I were in a wheelchair it would make regular, daily tasks on campus too hard. We are a small campus with low enrollment, and the buildings that present the problems are the oldest buildings on campus. However, our school still needs to be aware of the lack of disability accommodations in the older buildings.

This also limits the locations in which certain professors would be able to teach. If a disabled student enrolls to our campus, how will the school accommodate them? What if someone comes to view the campus and notices the same things I’ve noticed, and that deters them from applying to our school or teaching at our school?

Maybe that seems a little dramatic and the stairs and doors aren’t seen as a big problem, but remember that this is a daily struggle for some people. These small problems can make some people uncomfortable or unable to get into a building or reach a classroom.