Accessibility concerns on campus

Campus dorms face scrutiny amongst many other TU buildings.

Accessibility is an important topic, but it is not always something that comes to mind. I, like many other able-bodied students, forget that there are areas of our campus that are limited to those with physical accessibility needs. Things as simple or grand as a ramp, braille signage, handicapped parking spaces, digital formats, elevators or even ADA push buttons for the doors. When these accessibility concerns do not impact our daily lives, they can easily slip through the cracks of our minds. Regardless, that does not make the lack of them okay or acceptable.

Many buildings on our campus have aspects of inaccessibility such as Harwell Hall, Chapman Hall, Phillips Hall, John Mabee, Lottie Jane and Fisher Suites. The degree of inaccessibility ranges depending on the building, however, they are all limiting to those with physical accessibility concerns. Reflecting back on the accessibility article published on March 10, the only wheelchair-accessible area in Harwell Hall is the first floor. This means that anthropology and sociology students taking classes in this building cannot utilize any of the laboratories or offices located on the second floor. The article highlights accessibility concerns and requests reasonable yet much-needed changes for buildings on campus.

Multiple dorms on campus also face accessibility concerns including Fisher Suites, Lottie Jane and John Mabee.

Only one out of three of the Fisher Suites dorm entrances is wheelchair accessible. However, this entrance is inaccessible from the Fisher Suites parking lot where the other two entry points are located. The Fisher Suites parking lot entries consist of a thirteen-step stairway that leads to the Fisher Suites lobby area, which also doubles as a cut-through option for the Pat Case Dining Center. The second option is a slightly sloped ground-level door that leads you to the first floor of the dorm. The ground-level door sounds fairly accessible, that is until you realize it is a sloped ramp with no ADA push button available. The only way to get to the wheelchair-accessible entrance from this parking lot is by traveling uphill and around the entire building. This concern could be alleviated with the addition of an ADA push button at the ground-level parking lot door, yet even after reaching out about this issue, no action has taken place. A suggestion provided for a simple and quick solution was to park in the Lorton lot, which requires a $801 parking pass.

Lottie Jane faces similar accessibility concerns since the closure of the West side of the building that was announced on March 17, 2023. The closure of this side of the building meant the loss of access to the only elevator in the building. Many students voiced their concerns about this lack of accessibility at the start of the semester, but no actions to alleviate this were taken other than the provision of a few consoling words. Anyone who enters the east wing will find that all passages to the first and second floors of that wing are totally obstructed by stairs (even with an operational elevator).

The John Mabee dorm is also limited in regard to accessibility. While this dormitory building has several accessible entry doors, it only has one elevator. It is located on the west side of the building which makes it primarily accessible to the west side of the building.
Unfortunately, these accessibility concerns are not likely to be resolved any time soon. One would think that any accessibility concern on campus would be seen as a priority, as these issues create limitations not only impacting students with disabilities or injuries but also limiting any families or friends from experiencing an accessible campus when visiting.

tucollegian | Collegian
tucollegian | Collegian

Post Author: Jeana Brewer