I know this column is supposed to focus on disability and sexuality. Due to recent events, I feel it necessary to use this platform to discuss something equally important: accessibility on our campuses.
As a student at Dalhousie, the university receives a lot of money from my family so that I can take courses here. Don’t get me wrong – I really like the courses I’m taking here for the most part, and many of the students and professors are accepting and accommodating towards my disability. There are some days where I feel more at home accepted here more than anywhere else in the city.
No matter how well treated I am the community, however, one thing remains heartbreakingly isolating: the majority of buildings in classrooms on this campus are not accessible. Universities are said to be places of acceptance of diversity – even in celebration of it.
The question I have then is how am I supposed to embrace my difference when I can’t even get into a classroom? I have to wait for someone to let me in to this place that has been given money to let me be there? Sometimes when I have to wait for someone to walk by so that I can ask them to let me in, I feel like a dog. I realize this may sound overly dramatic to some people, but I would hazard a guess that a lot of those people have not been in that situation.
I strive very hard to be as independent as I possibly can, which is part of the reason I chose to go to university. So it would be nice to enter a classroom just like everyone else.
The question becomes what can we do to solve this problem?
The answer is simple: you either put on automatic doors on all the classrooms or, if that is too expensive, put a wedge in the door so that it remains open to everyone until the beginning of the class.
If you’re going to pride yourself on inclusivity and diversity, you better make sure those diverse students can at least enter the classroom.