October 25, 2021
Ithaca, NY | 50°F

Opinion

Ithaca College’s campus must be accessible for all

Ithaca College is gorgeous — we have incredible hiking spots, and the campus itself is located on South Hill, New York. But the campus was not designed to be inclusive or fair to all. The location of the campus is of only slight inconvenience to some students, faculty or staff who do not have to take into account how privileged they may be to be able to take shortcuts to class and not have to design their path based on where the accessibility features on campus are located. 

The college has put accessibility functions throughout campus, but there is still much more to be done for the sake of making the entire campus as accessible as possible for every student. The campus is on a hill: correct. The campus does have ramps in many locations: correct. The campus has elevators in every academic building: correct. On paper, or on the virtual campus map, it shows that there are many wheelchair-accessible entrances and elevators in nearly every part of the college. Nevertheless, there is so much more that needs to be done for the inclusivity and equity of all members of this community. 

There are almost no directly-visible forms of accessibility aid on campus — many ramps and elevators were built to be out of the way, almost hiding them from the picturesque presentation of campus. While many buildings are accessible, others are significantly less accessible. A freshman who needs a wheelchair to transport themselves, or who is injured and is now on crutches, may have serious difficulty visiting their friends who live in the Upper or Lower Quads because none of the quads except Boothroyd have elevators. This can result in freshmen with mobility issues missing out on important opportunities to bond with friends.    

Accommodating students ensures a safe and welcoming environment that allows students to focus on their mental health, academic pursuits and personal lives rather than worrying about how they can get around campus or how they can feel comfortable in their second home. Full-time students spend the majority of the year living on campus or away from their familiar support systems. College is a place for students to grow and mature, to learn to take care of themselves properly. They can’t do that until the college fulfills its role of creating an environment fit to accommodate all students and ensure their safety and well-being on a daily basis. 

 

The Ithacan can be reached at ithacan@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @IthacanOnline