Let me preface this article by saying how much I enjoy being a student here at Cabrini. I enjoy living on campus and think I go to a great college. Really, I do. Honest. That being said, I have a complaint.
I think Cabrini is not conscious of the needs of the handicapped students that attend this institution. More than that, I think Cabrini does not plan for the needs of future handicapped students.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I know Cabrini has made some great efforts in their new endeavors. The New Residence Hall, though lacking a name, has wonderful handicapped accessibility. Similarly, the Apartment Complex and the Dixon Center are also handicapped accessible. No, I’m talking about the older buildings on Cabrini’s campus.
Take for example, Woodcrest Dormitory. This building was built before the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1992 required them to make the building handicapped accessible. Over the summer a new set of front steps was constructed for Woodcrest.
However, since the building is “grandfathered” and does not have to be handicapped accessible, when the new front steps were made, they were not made with a ramp. Now I know you are saying, “Katie, what’s the point? The rest of Woodcrest is still not handicapped accessible, why bother?”
Here’s why: What if in next year’s incoming freshman class there is a student with a parent or sibling who is handicapped? What if next year there’s a class project and the group (which includes a handicapped student) meets in the Woodcrest lobby to compare notes? Simple little things like that. I mean, they were rebuilding the steps anyway. Why not make them handicapped accessible while they were at it? Just because they don’t have to does not mean they shouldn’t.
Second example: The new communications center in Founder’s Hall. The only accessible feature is the doors to the radio studios can be powered by remote for handicapped students.
Even that is small potatoes when you think about all that is in the wing: TV studios, editing bays, computer labs, graphic design labs, newsroom none of them are accessible. And what about the double doors leading into the wing or into the radio station? You guessed it, not handicapped accessible.
The rest of Founder’s Hall has accessible features, why was this edition built without the features? It is rather presumptuous and ignorant of us to think that there will never be any handicapped communications students, don’t you think?
Last March, the Loquitur published an article on handicapped accessibility on campus. One of the major stumbling blocks listed for making improvements to our campus’ accessibility is money. Making the doors to the radio studios accessible was reported as costing $4,000.
Here’s a thought: What if they did it right the first time and made it handicapped accessible instead of having to go back and redo it. I’m willing to bet it would be cheaper.
My point is, as a campus community we need to be aware of one another and of each other’s needs. We should think and plan ahead before we go rushing into remodeling buildings and walkways. It is apart of the Cabrini Mission Statement. It is a part of “Education of the Heart.” Now we just need to live it.