Opinions

Eastern, Ableism, and the Lack of the Doane Bridge: Waltonian Editor-in-Chief investigates Eastern’s seemingly ableist actions and their impact on students at Eastern, especially those with disabilities.

The only solid path from the main part of campus to the gym (where chapel is held) and many dorm buildings is inactive for a non-specified amount of time, leaving students with disabilities on the back burner of Eastern’s interests.

A few months ago when a contractor was working on improving parts of Eastern’s campus, one employee used the Doane bridge as a driveway for their machine. This bridge was only built as a pedestrian pathway. This, in turn, made the bridge snap. Although this initial accident was not Eastern’s fault, the university has still not repaired the bridge that allows for non-stair access between the main side of campus (Walton and McInnis) and the gym and most dormitories.

In the long term side of things, Eastern is using this accident to try and pay for a project that could build a road over the bridge for cars. This would allow gym access from the first entrance of the university. This would discontinue the current path that leads to the gym through a local neighborhood behind Eastern. Although this, in the long run, would make Eastern’s gym more accessible, especially for sporting events, it still ignores the needs of disabled students now.

This issue was also met with many questions on how Eastern is bettering itself to be a more accessible campus in the long run.

As someone who is able bodied, I am often not faced with the implications of Eastern’s campus’ lack of accessibility. This is my privilege. To gain more of an understanding, I try to meaningfully take paths on campus that do not have stairs, steep hills and uneven ground. I know each time that this will be a hard task to follow through with, but I am also grateful that taking these paths, for me, is a choice. This is not a choice for other students, faculty, staff and visitors to the campus who face varying levels of disabilities. Many are faced with so many difficulties while getting around Eastern.

Eastern is known for its beautiful campus, but I think that its beauty hides a lot, including how accessible it is as a whole. When I ask the big questions about how students are encouraged to move around campus with a disability, I am told that they can receive help from CCAS, Eastern’s academic and counseling services office. I think that accommodations are great, but where is CCAS located? The third floor of Walton, Eastern’s main building, that does not have an elevator.

I think that there are many ways that the campus can become more accessible, but it has not been done yet. The new pergolas, updated Hainer basement, and string lights by Sparrowk are nice though.

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