This year marks my third year attending the University of Indianapolis, so at this point, I would consider myself somewhat of a “minor expert” regarding campus and the large majority of the buildings on campus. This is in no way saying I know every minor detail about on-campus life, but I do have my fair share of experiences with the ups and downs of living at UIndy. Since my freshman year, I have always had a soft spot for our small campus, but that does not mean some glaring issues go unnoticed in my eyes—the most prolific being accessibility issues. According to UIndy’s website, the campus is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, but in my opinion, compliance does not mean that the university does not have room for improvement.
When I first arrived on campus, a lot of the accessibility issues did not bother me because I have the luxury of being an able-bodied individual, which has allowed me to see the world through rose-colored glasses. Yes, it was annoying to make the trek up the four flights of stairs because the Warren Hall elevator was broken for the “millionth” time, but it was not that big of a deal for me. However, the perspective that I had on the issue quickly shifted after a girl living on my floor experienced an injury. I distinctly remember asking her how she was getting around Warren, and when she replied that she had been going up and down the stairs on crutches, it rubbed me the wrong way. “How is it acceptable for her to have to take the stairs?” I remember thinking to myself repeatedly. “What about people who are in wheelchairs who want to visit different floors?” It just did not seem fair to me, and from that point on I just noticed more and more issues, a broken door button here, an elevator down there, or a building with stairs in front of it and no ramp.
I believe that it is easy to forget the privileges we able-bodied individuals have in our day-to-day lives. What may be a slight inconvenience for us could drastically change the course of someone else’s day. Out of 23 buildings on campus, six have no automatic doors, according to an accessibility map on the UIndy Website. Additionally, the buildings that do have automatic doors do not have them at every entrance and exit. There is also only one elevator in Esch Hall that currently functions, as the second one has been decommissioned and has not worked at all in the three years I have been going here. One elevator in Esch during the “before class rush hour” simply does not allow for all the people who want or need to get on it in a timely manner (Not even mentioning that the elevator seems to move in slow motion, as well.) The theme of inadequate elevators around campus has been an all too familiar pattern that I have noticed in the last three years. It seems as though whenever an elevator goes down on campus there’s somewhat of a drag to get things up and running again, especially if the building is deemed non-accessible anyway like Warren. This also seems to be the case if there is a second elevator, like in Greyhound Village this year where at least one elevator has not worked all semester.
Although UIndy is ADA compliant, that does not mean said compliance is effective or cutting edge. I believe that not only as a society but also as a community, we must make sure that we all have to make sure the playing field of the world is equitable. With that in mind, I believe that it is important to acknowledge the individual privileges we all possess—no matter how small they may be—and extend grace and empathy toward those who may not have such. Even with simple changes such as making sure elevators are properly maintained within a timely manner, adding ramps in front of buildings like Warren and adding more automatic doors, the university would be helping to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities—seen or unseen. Just by implementing a few of the changes on campus mentioned, I believe that it would serve the university in unforeseen and amazing ways just by showing those with disabilities that we value their presence on campus as much as anyone else’s.