Accessibility on the Wilkes University campus

Andre Spruell, Opinion Co-Editor

Walking around campus to get to class is a simple task for many students, but for other students it can be a daily struggle. The simple, everyday things that most people can do could sometimes be taken for granted, especially if they have never had anything serious done to alter those daily routines. Little things that can alter daily activities are things like getting a type of cold, jamming a finger, or stubbing a toe to name a few examples.

Unfortunately for other people, there are bigger issues that limit their mobility, and seriously alter everyday life and draws all eyes on them. For people who must deal with this reality, they must figure out how to go about certain things differently that most people would have no difficulty with, like getting to class, especially on college campuses. Being handicapped accessible is something that college campuses have had to do adapt to overtime.

In my opinion, at Wilkes University, the campus is pretty accessible for students with a disability, but there are certain buildings that have issues. One building with the biggest issue is Kirby Hall. The building itself has been on campus since the university officially became called Wilkes University in 1941. Renovations were made in 1992 to restore the tradition and historical aspects of the building making it one of the older and more majestic buildings on campus. The biggest issue with the building is that the only way to navigate through the different levels of is through stairs. Due to this, students who us a wheelchair or are on crutches or even on a scooter for an injured ankle have no access to Kirby Hall.

Even to enter the building, there are only stairs, which limits those same students. English classes take place at Kirby Hall and if a student with a disability wants to take an English class but is not able to walk up the stairs, then by law, that professor must move the entire class to a handicapped accessible building on campus to accommodate that student. This is true because I am experiencing what it is like to have to maneuver my way around campus in different ways on crutches. I had reconstructive knee surgery for a torn ACL, which is a six to nine month recovery process and have to walk on crutches for almost two months.

Just this past week that I have been going to class, my English class had to be moved because it took place in Kirby Hall. The first couple of days were difficult to adjust, but now I can get around better. There were two other minor issues that I encountered. One of those issues was at times, I was not able to locate certain door buttons, especially those on the first floor of the student union building (SUB). To get to class, I have to walk through the SUB and before entering the building, the blue handicapped accessible button is on the left-hand side and opens both sets of doors, but after entering those two doors, the next blue button to open the last two sets of doors are all the way on the far-right hand side which is kind of an inconvenience.

On the way back through the SUB, the first blue button is on the left-hand side and the second one for the last two sets of door is hidden behind two tables that I must maneuver through the tables to tap the last blue button. The only other minor issue is that in the main entrance leaving Breiseth Hall, one of the buttons to manually open the door does not open the door at times. Despite those few inconveniences, the Wilkes campus seems to do a pretty good job of being accessible.

Personally, I live off campus so I do not how well the accessibility is or not, but I do know that if a student was a disability that student will be placed in a dormitory that is accessible. Though I have had walk on crutches through campus, I will say that the support of those on campus has been overwhelmingly great. Every time I leave a class, there are students and faculty who are so quick to give out a helping hand without any hesitation, and having that support is so helpful and means so much that it is hard to put into words.