Assessing Accessibility on Campus

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Published November 6, 2019
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The Montclarion
Alexis Kitchmire | The Montclarion

The transition from being a high school senior to a freshman in college can be difficult for anyone. Although, for me, it was even more challenging because I have cerebral palsy spastic diplegia; a chronic neuromuscular condition that results in tightness or stiffness in legs, hips and pelvis.

As a result, I had an opportunity to evaluate the accessibility of the campus through the Educational Opportunity Fund‘s (EOF) six-week summer program. Montclair State University’s location makes it troublesome to get around because of the changes in elevation.

With this unavoidable roadblock, Disability Services was able to provide a shuttle to pick me up from class to class. This provided some ease for an every day routine, but was only part of the solution.

The other problem I experience is that there are still buildings being overlooked in regard to accessibility options and better elevator and door maintenance.

Recently, I had to use the stairs in the School of Communication and Media because the one elevator that goes to the basement was not functional. Imagine having to wait for someone to help you go up and down the stairs for three days, an unacceptable amount of time.

Also, please be weary of overpacking elevators. Opening and closing the doors repeatedly can damage the elevators.

In response to these issues, Montclair State should have a better way to contact maintenance in every building or a front desk ready to handle any situation. I should not have to ask a professor to call maintenance and wait between 20 to 40 minutes for someone to assist me. The response should be immediate because no one should be late to their class.

Another improvement that can be made is the university shuttle service. I think if the system of pickup times was modified, it would be more productive.

Instead of having five pick ups at 8:15 a.m. at different locations, there should be an app or group pickups in one specific spot. If an app were made, it should give all numbers and information needed to see how long the wait is, or even an automatic text system.

According to the best colleges, Montclair State is rated 166 within national universities. Tuition is set to increase and I hope it goes to improve these unacceptable accessibility problems.

Montclair State is a beautiful and diverse campus and someone’s outlook should not have to change because of the difficulty of navigating the buildings and the campus. No one should be forced to struggle at an attempt to experience campus life.

If anyone on campus sees something broken like a door activation push button or a door, please report it. If more students report certain issues, the quicker these issues are fixed.

If anyone is new to Montclair State and does not know where to get help, you can go to the Disability Resource Center at Webster Hall, room 100, or visit montclair.edu.

There, students will be provided documents to fill out to receive services like class accommodations to get extra tools so students may reach their top performance.

Even though I have encountered obstacles on campus, I would not want to change my experiences because they only allow me to grow and improve my capability.

Montclair State can do better for students with disabilities and certain situations can be avoided. Everyone should have the same experiences on campus, no matter where and how.

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