EDITORIAL: WKU should look to improve handicap accessibility immediately

Tuesday, Oct. 16 Editorial Cartoon

Herald Staff

THE ISSUE: A student in the theater department is not able to access parts of Gordon Wilson Hall due to its lack of handicap accessibility.

OUR STANCE: Accommodations should be made accordingly, and the Herald feels they should have been made prior to this incident even occurring.

For the majority of college students, their morning goes as following: wake up for class, get dressed, grab their books and head to the building their class is located in. And for the majority of college students, they are able to enter said building without problem. If they’re lucky, someone may even hold the door for them. 

Yet for many disabled students, entering buildings is not as simple as it is for many able-bodied students.

That unfortunate story is true for theater major and Portland, Tenn., junior Megan Allen who, because of being a wheelchair user, is not able to access all of Gordon Wilson Hall, which houses the theater and dance departments.

Matt Davis, coordinator for Student Disability Services, is quoted in a Herald article about Allen and petition for her saying that members of the theatre department have met with Allen to come up with solutions to the inaccessibility problems. Yet why not go with the best solution, which would be creating an elevator or ramp for disabled people to use? 

WKU should make every building and restroom on campus accessible to students, visitors, faculty and staff, because each person on this campus contributes to its success. And WKU, as the owners of the campus, should make it a priority for each person to be able to move comfortably.

Having students, who pay tuition, follow the rules and regulations and do what they are supposed to, not be able to enter a building because of their disability should be a direct point to the administration that something is amiss and needs to be fixed immediately.

For Gordon Wilson, a building that is three floors high, to be without an elevator is absurd and severely limits the opportunity for disabled students to interact and learn. Worse, they will not be able to enter a space where their skills may be an asset.

Allen’s story is especially deplorable because everyone should have access to public spaces, and when they cannot, it creates an uneven playing field. A school that advertises its equality should be embarrassed that not every student has equal access.

Percentages and other statistics aside, disabled students make up a portion of this campus. They attend class, participate in enrichments and will one day call WKU their alma mater. It’s unfortunate that their memories on this campus may be tarnished or limited because they were not able to enter a building like every other able-bodied person could.

Not having one group of people be able to access an area marginalizes them more than they already may be in society. 

Put simply, if WKU can change the layout of campus while simultaneously spending tens of millions of dollars all for the sake of renovating its university center, then they can spend however much it will cost to make the building handicap accessible. 

They owe it to Allen, other disabled students and any future disabled students who attend WKU. 

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 13-member editorial board.