Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Make GU Accessible

Imagine trying to make it from the Prospect Street level of Village A all the way up to the Leavey Center on foot. Tough? Now imagine doing it in a wheelchair. This is no simple undertaking; it requires careful planning for a trip involving many ramps and elevators along the way.

On a city campus whose geographical nature makes for very limited space (not to mention our location on the “Hilltop”), it is hard to fully accommodate disabled students, who must plan each and every day around maneuvering their way about campus. Georgetown still has a lot of work to do in making its campus fully accessible to students and visitors with disabilities, especially to anyone on campus during the move-in or move-out periods.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, passed by Congress in 1990 and put into effect in 1992, requires that “buildings and facilities. designed, constructed, or altered with federal funds” must abide by a minimum set of requirements in order to make those buildings accessible.

Georgetown complies with the word of the law here on campus, but it hardly complies with its spirit – to make accessibility easier for those students wheelchair-bound or handicapped.

The irony in the current campus construction is that despite the many and varied renovation projects, many areas important to handicapped students remain neglected as they have been for decades, including the sidewalks on and off campus. Many of these sidewalks are falling apart, including ones necessary to access campus buildings, such as those on 36th Street across from the Car Barn and those next to Reiss.

Elevator outages prove to be another constant annoyance. With a campus full of hills, elevators are essential to many, and proper upkeep is an ongoing necessity. The university has done well in renovating the elevators in ICC and New North to make them more handicapped accessible, and the community will be well-served if administrators keep the handicapped in mind while pursuing new renovation and construction projects.

It doesn’t stop with university officials, however. Non-handicapped people are responsible for much of the wear and tear that campus facilities suffer each day. By unnecessarily using devices intended for use by handicapped people, such as automatic door buttons, students and others increase the likelihood of the devices malfunctioning and being unavailable for use by those who actually need them. Minimizing use of the features will allow everyone to traverse campus more easily.

Georgetown needs to take more steps than it has in the past in order to create an open and welcoming environment for everyone among us. The university could look into the possibilities offered by modern technology – implementing lifting mechanisms at the bottom of staircases, for example, and all Hoyas can contribute to the accessible nature of Georgetown by utilizing special resources only if required. It is the right of all Hoyas to live and study on a user-friendly campus.

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