Last week one of our writers, Trinity Corney, covered an event on accessibility that was held on the fourth floor of the Student Center.
On a normal day, this wouldn’t be too much of a problem, but for students with physical disabilities, this was a major inconvenience. The only elevator in the building that was accessible to the fourth floor was out of order.
Corney contacted various members of our staff and alerted them about the dilemma, which led managing editor Mackenzie Robertson and feature editor Alexa Spear to rush over to assist and attempt to get her where she needed to be. Robertson then pushed for the event to be moved to a vacant ballroom on the first floor so that the event’s intended audience can attend.
While these situations are not always controllable, if this was a student who needed assistance getting to class and the only elevator available was out of order, the student would miss valuable coursework and risk forfeiting an attendance grade.
These students describe their experiences w/ disability and accessibility issues on campus: https://t.co/Hk5TQ601f3 If you are a student or parent of a student w/ a physical disability or health condition & you have questions about the transition to college, contact me!
— Annie Tulkin (Accessible College) (@AcssCollege) April 29, 2019
This problem expands beyond elevators. also finding itself in walkways, ramps and automated buttons to open doors on campus.
The university did receive a complaint back in 2014 in regard to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Included in the complaint were issues related to cracks in walkways that made it harder for wheelchair access, automated door access and problems in bathroom stalls.
According to a meeting The Montclarion had with administrators earlier this semester, the buildings on campus meet the New Jersey state standards in terms of handicap accessibility, but students still are going out of their way to get to them.
The Montclarion has also reported on accessibility multiple times the past few years looking for answers, and each story asks for the same assistance. Students feel that the only way to have their voices heard is through our Opinion section.
Even with numerous news reports, editorials and op-eds written, there seems to still be a lack of communication between students who need assistance and those who can fix it.
Students with disabilities should be able to have the same comfort as others when traveling to and from each building on campus without the hassle. They shouldn’t have to feel humiliation or guilt for using excuses for tardiness due to impediments in their way that could have been avoided.
"My voice is not being heard by the college." Read about Soma Ali's fight for accessibility on campus @langaracollege in tomorrow's edition of the Voice. @LangaraVoice @CloeILogan pic.twitter.com/s9Oro0QEK8
— Roxanne Egan-Elliott (@RoxEganElliott) October 25, 2018
To make the trip easier on students, facilities could rework the hours when they repair elevators to when classes aren’t in session. While emergency repairs are necessary and unavoidable, there should be immediate notice to students so that they can plan their route accordingly.
We want to thank university facilities for repairing the Student Center elevator in a timely fashion so that those who rely on it can get to their destination. Many of us take for granted these resources made available to us when there are those who need it.
While it may be an inconvenience for those who have to walk to the sixth floor of University Hall instead of taking an elevator, or having to put books down when the automated button doesn’t work, students with disabilities have no other choice and are forced to be dependent on someone else to help them.
There needs to be a better way for individuals with physical disabilities to navigate around this campus without forcing them to go completely out of their way. Just like every other student, they pay a lot of money to go to class and use the facilities Montclair State University offers, and they deserve to be accommodated to fit their needs. Every student deserves to have a great college experience.
If students are in need of accommodations, they should contact the Disability Resource Center at 973-655-5431 or visit the first floor of Webster Hall.