Life is hard enough on those with physical disabilities without having to spend extra time trying to navigate the pathways through campus. Unfortunately, with certain buildings being inaccessible and routes that do have ramps and elevators often being quite convoluted, those with physical disabilities are unnecessarily hassled by the lack of accessibility on campus.
Academics are a priority for students at UR, and it is important for there to be accessibility to classrooms. The Disability Resource Coordinator, Kathy Sweetland, as well as the Registrar’s Office, will change classrooms that are inaccessible, as well as offer rides to classes. These services may be helpful, but also take away from the independence that most other students enjoy as part of their college experience. First floor access is provided for all academic buildings on campus, particularly for buildings without elevators like Morey and Harkness halls, but the difficulty of getting to these buildings hinders the potential for students to be completely mobile on campus.
Wilson Commons, as a unique building on campus, provides a unique challenge for those who have disabilities. It does have an elevator and handicapped entrances, but it cannot even be accessed on the main level. Also, several aspects of Wilson Commons are completely inaccessible to handicapped students, such as the Havens Lounge and the Stackel Room. And while the renovations of the Commons revived what used to be the Pit, they did not accommodate students who are handicapped –— three stairs block those with wheel chairs from eating in the refurbished dining space.
On campus housing is also a problem for those that are handicapped, as some of the buildings, like Hill Court, were built before accessibility needs were taken into account. Residential Life has provided for two fully accessible rooms complete with private bathrooms in Tiernan Hall and Susan B. Anthony. However, to be a fully welcoming campus to handicapped students, more than two of these types of rooms would be necessary. Expanding some of these rooms to the upperclassmen housing would also help sophomore, junior or senior handicapped students feel less isolated in what are primarily freshman dorms.