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Handicap accessibility is needed on campus

By ALLIE ENGLERT

Just A Small Town Girl

This year will certainly be remembered as a time of change in the history of Georgetown College. With the impending retirement of President William H. Crouch Jr. in June 2013, the college is currently in search of new leadership and a new direction. Under this new leader, this writer hopes that the college will take important steps in a new direction to improve problems on campus that have been perpetuated year after year. To accomplish this, the administration must be willing to incorporate new ideas that will ultimately improve our GC. While Dr. Crouch’s decision to step down may have been one that several students and faculty members were hoping for, regardless of your personal feelings towards our President, we can all hope that this leads to a better tomorrow for Georgetown.

As students, whether you find yourself studying in the library, attempting to eat in the Caf or hanging out in your dilapidated dorm, it’s not out of the ordinary to hear our peers sarcastically point out the flaws of our school. Often we students complain about entities that affect us personally. This theme often describes the grievances expressed by this writer, too. However, the lack of handicap accessibility and accommodations on campus is something that we cannot deny as a change that is immediately necessary. If Georgetown were truly a great example of a diverse campus, then we would make the GC experience more accessible to all students, not just those from foreign countries. In order to become more diverse, the school must reach out to students with disabilities. This can be accomplished by providing venues to accommodate these students. For freshman Hollis Dudgeon, the first few months of college proved challenging due to an injury that required her to use a wheelchair. “Getting to the buildings around campus was pretty difficult sometimes because many of them aren’t handicap accessible at all. I have two classes in the basement of the chapel, so that was a challenge at the beginning,” she says.

It’s rather disheartening that several of our classroom buildings lack accommodations for students with disabilities, but what is even more disturbing is that none of our dorms are equipped with elevators. Even Hambrick and Rucker Villages, the new townhouses, weren’t built to accommodate wheelchairs to the second floor. Although including an elevator would have certainly increased the prices to build Hambrick and Rucker, with the knowledge that Barlow Homes built these dorms nearly at cost, it seems as though the college should have considered the need for such provisions. With the additional fee of a whopping $2,850 per semester that students must pay in order to live in the new townhouses, there is no doubt that an elevator would be financially feasible. (This, of course, is assuming that the money one pays specifically for room and board is actually used to repair and improve our housing facilities.) One can only hope that the third and final townhouse will attempt to cater to those in our GC family with disabilities.

One might argue that students with physical handicaps can easily live on the first floor of each of the dorms on South Campus as well as the new townhouses. However, what if a student has a parent or grandparent that requires a walker or a wheelchair? With the way our housing facilities are set up, these students wouldn’t be able to easily show off their dorm room to their family member. Furthermore, of the freshmen dorms, neither offers ramps for students with wheelchairs to enter and exit the building efficiently. Thus, freshmen students who need assistance in order to walk have no choice but to live on South Campus.

While Flowers Hall may seem more attractive to the average freshmen female due to the dorm’s coveted air-conditioned rooms, the downfall of not living in Knight or Anderson one’s freshmen year ultimately makes it more difficult for students to develop close-knit friendships with fellow students and cultivate a community with the peers in their dorm. Living in the upper-classmen dorms is vastly different from living in Knight and Anderson. Once students move to South Campus, they’ve typically established themselves and created friendships. In contrast, the majority, if not all of the students living in the freshmen dorms are united in their efforts to find their niche on campus.

This writer has made mention in a previous issue that the housing on campus is unacceptable. The lack of handicap provisions in our dorms is part of this issue. If Georgetown’s aim is to promote a diverse environment, then the administration must be willing to provide the means necessary to attract students with disabilities. An elevator was installed in the President’s House long before Dr. Crouch took office. It seems as though if the college can accommodate the president, the college should aim to accommodate its constituents. Hollis, a student who has experienced the need for handicap accessibility firsthand, believes that need for handicap accessibility should be a priority for Georgetown. She says, “GC needs to make these accommodations so that campus can be readily accessible to everyone.” This writer agrees and believes that this change could be a feasible step in the right direction for the college.

And if you don’t know, now you know, Tigas.