Elmhurst College should ensure that all spaces are accessible for every member of its community.
Students with mobility disabilities have limited options for accessible spaces. Even in buildings where elevators are present, there are still small or heavy doors and narrow hallways to get in and out of the elevator, making it difficult to access.
On top of that, some spaces have all of the above issues, and do not even have an elevator.
When space in Cureton and West Hall fills up, some students find themselves in a dorm with wheelchair accessibility, such as in Schick, which has a ramp, but also has small rooms, no air conditioning, and only one accessible floor.
Some faculty offices are only accessible by stairs, and some classrooms are cramped and require extra tables to accommodate students, and at that point, space becomes limited.
Some classrooms are set up on risers that would require a wheelchair user to sit directly in front of the teacher or to lift their chair over a step to sit at a desk.
Another example that hits close to home is The Leader newsroom, which is located in the basement of Dinkmeyer. If an editor or a staff member who uses a wheelchair wanted to join The Leader, they would not be able to access our office.
Students deserve an education that goes above and beyond to ensure their equal inclusion and opportunity to succeed. Is this not what the school proudly boasts in their mission?
Even if these standards are acceptable within the American Disabilities Act’s rules, we believe EC should be responsible for more.
Our handbook mentions disabilities and accessibilities, and it puts the burden of requesting “reasonable accommodations” on the student.
While EC cannot anticipate everything, the handbook should mandate certain guaranteed protections, resources, and processes for students with disabilities beyond “reasonable accomodations.”
The school covers several bases and stays within the parameters of the law, but we should hold the school to the highest standard possible.
Our living and learning environments are limited to only certain populations of the campus, and that is not fair. It is not enough that certain buildings have elevators; the entire campus needs to accessible beyond the requirements.
The school should explore the possibility of creating a more inclusive environment to live up to its own expectations of inclusion.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to learn comfortably, and EC must be held accountable for ensuring this beyond the bare minimum.