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Campus accessibility remains an issue despite construction of other projects

elevators

From new apartments to the new pier at Cypress Lake, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is developing.

However, some students with disabilities are frustrated to see UL Lafayette spending money on new projects while there are still changes to be made to improve the school’s accessibility.

“They’re building all these bike racks, these super nice bike racks, all over campus, but they can’t fix sidewalks, I can’t get buttons to open the door, the parking is horrible, people abuse the handicap parking, there’s not enough van accessible spots,” Sy Bodin, a senior and quadriplegic at UL Lafayette, said.

Bodin added that the university should pay more attention to the needs of disabled students.

“They just totally blow over all of it because, really, we are a minority so they want to cater to the new students and all that. I understand it makes sense, but at the same time they need to take care of the people who literally struggle to get around campus.”

According to StudentCaffe, a university is free to refuse to accommodate a student with a disability, “If providing the accommodation would put an excessive financial and/or administrative burden on the institution.”

Some buildings such as Mouton Hall and Declouet Hall don’t have elevators, making rooms on the second floor inaccessible to students in wheelchairs.

However, Director of Disability Services Carol Landry, Ph.D., said the Office of Disability Services can accommodate this situation.

“If a student is not able to access the second floor of old Mouton Hall we have the class moved,” Landry said.

Director of Facility Management Bill Crist said adding an elevator to Mouton hall would be no easy task.

“ If we put an elevator in the middle of Mouton Hall, which we are still having discussions about trying to do, we are going to lose two major classrooms in order to accommodate that,” Crist said.

Crist also addressed the issue of the sidewalks on campus.

“We spend about $100,000 a year in sidewalk improvements on campus each year, however, because of the tree roots from all of our campus oaks, it is a constant issue we deal with. We have over 22 miles of sidewalks on campus,” Crist said.

Despite the university being within its legal right to not make these accommodations, Bodin still feels that UL Lafayette should work to make its campus more accessible to students in wheelchairs.

“Someone who really struggles with their injury may be turned off from getting out in the world or going to school because the access is too limited,” he said. “What does that say about your school?”

Campus accessibility remains an issue despite construction of other projects

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