Student Government Association (SGA) at WCU recently conducted safety and accessibility walks with Disabled Students United (DSU) and Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA) to identify areas of concern on campus.
Accessibility is a struggle on campus with uneven sidewalks, elevators and accessibility buttons that continually go out of order, and the football stadium which is severely lacking in terms of accessibility. Student safety is also a concern in areas such as inadequate lighting and placement of blue light emergency stations.
Rei Feeley, president of DSU, hopes the struggles of disabled students are highlighted and action is prompted. Feeley says most students are unaware of accessibility issues. Feeley said that for every second that accessibility issues are not fixed, hundreds of disabled students are prevented from engaging with WCU or even doing the routine task of going to class.
“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.
Rayna Teague, president of SASA, said the organization participated to show lighting issues on campus with hopes of getting more lights installed and brighter bulbs installed in current fixtures.
The SGA walks did not go into buildings on these walks, but there are plans to do that in the future. Issues SGA found include poor lighting around Blue Ridge, Balsam, creek, Methodist Church, and freshman overflow lots; poor lighting near Belk, Ramsey, McKee, the fountain area, Norton and the Village and other dorms; no easy way for disabled students to get from the Fountain to Ramsey; difficult access to health services; and placement of blue light emergency service stations.
SGA understands that despite university commitments to ensure campus is accessible and safe, there are areas that fall short and need to be addressed. SGA will present findings in a resolution that if passed through the senate, will go to the student body president and vice presidents to be signed and presented to the chancellor and various departments and administrators.
Rae Suber, SGA’s Chief of Staff, said transparency is needed when addressing these issues. It may take time for these issues to be resolved, but Suber said “What is important is that we started the conversation about these changes, and that we got the process started… SGA will continuously work to see that they are addressed, and that change does happen.”
Feeley believes the university does not do a good job of advertising available resources for students. Feeley said, “… the lack of initiative on the school’s end to identify students who would benefit from extra resources is a problem.” It should be easy to find resources instead of having to dig through various website pages.
To this extent, DSU is working with the Office of Accessibility Resources (OAR) to get a more cohesive site to find information and available resources. OAR is in the process of refining their webpage. “Disabled students should not have to jump over hurdles in order to seek an equal education on a campus that already limits mobility,” Feeley said.
Wesley Satterwhite, director of OAR, hopes OAR’s page will include information about how to register with OAR, the accommodations process and how to request accommodations, how to report accessibility issues, and other resources for students and faculty with disabilities. OAR also wants to ensure the site has an accessible interface. OAR can be contacted at (828)-227-3886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Issues found during SGA’s safety and accessibility walks – provided by Rae Suber, SGA’s Chief of Staff. Contact SGA at email@example.com with questions.
-lamp out in between Balsam and Blue Ridge
-first set of stairs, leading to Belk are very dark
-no blue light emergency station ranging from Catafount to Engineering and applied tech building
-No easy way/ramp to getting from Catafount to Ramsey, all mostly steep downhill or stairs
– no blue light emergency station in Belk Parking Lot
-blinking crosswalk lights at all crosswalks near ramsey, curves may make it hard for drivers to see pedestrians
-possible Blue Light on sidewalk behind Ramsey center, more lighting in area
-Blue light in Balsam/Blue Ridge staff lot
-lighting in Balsam/Blue Ridge staff lot
-lighting at Gate 5-Ramsey Center
-lighting to Accessibility entrance to Ramsey very dark
-blue light in between Ramsey and Parking Deck
-creek lot lighting
-creek light blue lights not shining
-no blue light emergency station in Bardo parking Lot
-bricks near Bardo uneven
-area behind Bardo no lighting
-Balsam lower lot—no lighting
-Balsam Parking lots- no blue light emergency stations
– lighting in between Courtyard and Balsam
-lighting for bridge leading to Camp Lot
-Lighting for overpass leading to Exxon lot— Not technically WCU
-Blue light locations closer to overpass
-No blue light in Camp Lot
-more blue light locations for IM fields, only one in the middle
-lighting on bridge from the IM fields to Ramsey
-No handicap Button for Center for Applied Technology side entrance
-better signage for accessibility routes- Super tricky trying to find the entrance to Belk to get to the elevator
-Accessibility Button not working for Courtyard Main entrance, or the side Moe’s entrance
-brighter lights on walkway beside CRC
-Accessibility button not working for Book Store
-Blue light in area between UC and CRC, also no blue light Station
-Uneven bricks and sidewalk in courtyard beside Mckee
-no accessibility button at main entrance to university Auditorium
-uneven and wobbly bricks in front of library
-sidewalk in front of McKee, University Auditorium and Stillwell- uneven sidewalk and low wall that’s falling apart
-lighting in beside Mckee
-flashers at crosswalk between University Auditorium and health services, curves make it hard to see pedestrians
-more lights surrounding fountain
-lighting at library
-Lighting in Church Lot behind noble
-lighting in 63-B lot
-lighting in front of Albright/Benton
-replacing lights near Harril hall
-lighting in trail behind Albright
-Blue Light station near Judaculla
-lighting between Allen and Buchanan
-lighting in Faculty lot Between Allen and Brown
-lighting between Killian Annex and Mckee
**may not need more lights, but lights may need to be changed or replaced
–double sided benches at CatTran Stop
-No sidewalk from Norton to the Village
-More lighting between Village Houses
-no Blue Light behind Village Houses
-No lighting in Trail system in front of Village/Norton
-lighting in picnic area
-more light in freshman overflow parking—there is a single one at the very edge of the parking lot
-Blue light near track
-Blue light near HFR
-Blue Light in CCPD parking lot
-Passing button too far from road at intersection in front of Noble Hall
-handrail in front of McKee broken
-No access to health services unless you have someone to drive you
-only one blue light on the entire hill—beside a building that’s not even being used, Moore
-traffic signs between Moore and Old student Union, cars unsure of where to turn
-Lighting in front of Reynolds
-Crawl space of Reynolds unlocked