The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The effects of a temporary on-campus handicap

When I was a child my great-grandmother often told me, “you never truly appreciate the small things in life until they are gone.” While I took this advice to heart and made a daily agenda to recognize and appreciate each sunset and sunrise and all that came between, somehow I forgot to evaluate the importance of one of the most practiced yet unappreciated activities done by man – walking.

Handicapped from a dislocated knee after jumping over a fence during an FYE expedition, I found myself needing crutches for 6 weeks. Already feeling frustrated and confused, Guilford’s lack of handicap accessibility only added fuel to the fire.

None of Guilford’s six dorms have an elevator enabling students to reach upper floors, though most of them have handicap ramps enabling access to the building. I realized this was a problem when, living on the third floor of Milner, I had to lift myself up three flights of stairs several times a day.

I realized that Archdale, the home of many professors’ offices, was anything but accessible. While it too had the misleading lure of handicapped ramps I discovered that once inside I was either restricted to the first floor or forced to painstakingly drag myself up a flight of stairs.

Even Dana auditorium and the Alumni gym, sites of many of Guilford’s largest events, became major challenges, neither one having elevators or easily accessible ramps for the disabled.

Tedious as my trials with Guilford’s buildings were, the real test was with the sidewalks. Though many of the sidewalks leading to main buildings have been or are in the process of being re-paved it is the sidewalks in between dorms where the true peril lies.

For example, one night, under a vaguely lit sky, I decided to visit Bryan. On this journey I discovered the large gaps in the crosswalk leading from Milner to Bryan. At one point I fell victim to a hole in the pavement and had to be escorted back to my dorm via golf cart.

Dismayed and angered I asked myself where is all of our tuition money really going?

Can Guilford College not afford to renovate its buildings and add elevators, or to repave the sidewalks so that handicapped students are able to get around, and able students don’t hurt themselves and become handicapped?

If the safety of students has always been the school’s number one priority, why aren’t these changes being made? Is the school blind to their necessity?

While the reality of the situation may be that many of Guilford’s buildings are too old to support the renovations required to bring them up to par, the fact still remains that this is a growing problem. As Guilford’s enrollment increases each year, so too does the probability of handicapped students attending: handicapped students that Guilford does not currently have the capacity to support.

I propose that every able bodied student take a walk around campus. Examine every crack in the sidewalk or lack of elevators; things that may be minimal to them but hampering to another.

Then, I propose, we show campus life our concern: sending e-mails, letters or making calls until I, in my disabled state, can safely walk on every side and crosswalk on campus, and casually access any floor of any building.

It is the duty of the students to make our voices heard, and make the necessity of these changes understood.

Who knows when you may be down and out and unsupported by Guilford?

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