Kalamazoo, MI
one-hundred-forty Years of Service to the Student

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Red Brick and a Steep Gradient

(Emily Pizza / Index)

Academy Street, with its distinct red brick road and steep gradient, welcomes students onto campus each year. For some students however, it’s not a happy sight.

As an able-bodied student, I can appreciate the beauty of our Arcadian hill, but at the same time, I also recognize the struggle for students with physical disabilities.

Trowbridge, Harmon, Crissey, and Severn halls all pose difficulty to people in wheelchairs, Humphrey House does not have an elevator.

While the college says it will do its very best to accommodate students with disabilities, it’s no surprise that our steep hills and plentiful stairs deter them. Scott Brent, K’16, is a little person, and understands the physical constraints that living on this campus can have.

When he was applying for schools, his need for accommodations was always weighing on his mind. “I was always fearing when applying…that some of these colleges may not want to pay out of pocket for what I need,” Brent said.

“The ramp makes it more difficult for those in wheelchairs to access the building. It adds more of a flourish for those who are visiting, and that angers me a little bit,” Brent said.

While he applauds our Associate Dean of Students Dana Jansma for her assistance in making sure his needs are accommodated, he believes the school doesn’t always have its priorities straight, especially with the Arcus Center ramp, which weaves and bends.

“The ramp makes it more difficult for those in wheelchairs to access the building. It adds more of a flourish for those who are visiting, and that angers me a little bit,” Brent said.

For a building that is supposed to promote equality, making those in wheelchairs go the extra mile to get inside seems confusing.

However, Brent does manage to deal with the challenging campus every day. He leaves lunch 30 minutes early to get to class on time. His friends often times comment on the length of time it takes to get across campus, which he attributes to his condition.

He adds that since moving into Crissey this year, he has spent considerably less time at the library because he’s “really tired of walking up the hill.”

Although the college attempts to make its campus inclusive, we need to be honest when we say this is not an all-inclusive school. Even if we provide the funds, support systems, and programs, our campus is not a physical disability-friendly space.

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Red Brick and a Steep Gradient