The Student Government Association at WCU (SGA) will host safety and accessibility walks on Oct. 26 and 27 with Disabled Students United (DSU), Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA), and SGA’s Health and Safety Committee to identify and work to address concerns.
There will be two safety walks on Wednesday, Oct. 26 meeting at the Catafount at 1:20 and 7:20 p.m. The accessibility walk will meet at the fountain at 2:50 p.m.
These walks will aim to look at safety and accessibility problems on campus like inadequate lighting, uneven terrain, location of the emergency blue light telephone boxes, and whether buildings are accessible for disabled students.
Despite work to ensure a safe and accessible campus, SGA realizes there are areas needing improvement said SGA’s Chief of Staff, Rae Suber.
“SGA believes that no one should feel unsafe on campus, and that no one should feel as if any part of this campus is not accessible to them…,” said Suber.
Rei Feeley, president of DSU, says the majority of the campus community is unaware of the lack of accessibility disabled students face, including accessibility buttons and elevators that go out of order, buildings missing buttons, and doorways that wheelchairs can’t fit through. Feeley wants this to change and wants accountability.
“It is time for able-bodied students and faculty to be aware of and angry with more than just the surface level issues that come to mind when you think of ‘accessibility’. It is time to hold the school accountable for every physical limitation that exists on campus,” Feeley said. They continued with, “Every second that these issues are not fixed is another moment where hundreds of disabled students on campus are faced with stress when it comes to the basic task of getting to class.”
SASA is participating in the night safety walk with hopes of showing student leadership how dark some sections of campus can be and improving lighting on campus so no students feel unsafe said Rayna Teague, president of SASA. SASA hopes brighter bulbs will be installed in current lights and more lights will be placed throughout campus in areas around Norton, parking lots, and the trail behind Allen, for instance.
The plan is for six groups to cover six routes across campus, looking at most of the buildings and parking lots, walkways, stairs, and crosswalks. Suber will look at remaining areas of concern if any routes are not covered. SGA is not planning to look inside buildings on these walks but is hoping to do so at a later time.
SGA will present findings in the form of a resolution to the student body senate, which if approved will move to the student body president and vice president. The student body president will then present the resolution to the chancellor, administration, and other departments on campus to begin addressing problems.
SGA encourages anybody who is able to attend the walks to do so. There is no limit on the number of participants allowed.
For academic accommodations, students can turn to the Office of Accessibility Resources. Students can also file a SAFE @ WCU report if they are concerned about their safety. There are very few resources for physical disabilities on campus.