Campus accessibility: the grass is always greener

As a college student who has cerebral palsy and uses crutches to get around campus, accessibility is very important to me. It affects my everyday life as I go to class, the dining hall, the library, and my dorm. I wrote an article for my school newspaper at The Saint Rose Chronicle about accessibility.

As a student journalist, I found it interesting and frustrating that I had to keep my perspective out of the story. I could not interject my voice or my opinion about the accessibility of a campus I have become familiar with over the past three and a half years. I had to separate myself because journalists are to act as conduits for information without bias.

So I gathered my sources two of which work in the office for students with disabilities one is a current student and the other graduated in 1993. What they had to say was interesting and perplexing to me because I didn't necessarily agree with them. The outlook of my disabled peers on campus accessibility was much more positive than my own perspective was at the time. When I was conducting the interview I thought to myself are we talking about the same campus?

Whenever an elevator or a button to open a door was not working, I would utter a popular phrase on campus, the St. Rose difference. Using the college's old slogan in a negative light which is perhaps why they have since changed their slogan.

Earlier in the semester when I was writing the article I was also thinking of transferring to Siena college hoping to find a different atmosphere (difference in what way, I do not know). I just wanted a change. So I took a tour of the place and made a very ironic discovery. The office for students with disabilities was in the oldest building on campus, the only one without an elevator! I had to go around to the back of the building to get to the bottom floor where the office was located.  The staff also had no knowledge of e-text, which is an integral part of how I read my textbooks and therefore how I function as a student.

Siena College was my dose of perspective. Everything about it was comparable or worse than St. Rose. Accessibility being one of those things that were worse. Visiting another college reminded me that even while campus accessibility may not always be ideal and certainly has some glitches, at least it's not stuck in the Stone Age without elevators or e-text in vital places.


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