Traveling around the Lawrenceville campus for most students is easy. Sometimes you have to dodge puddles, but once you put yourself in my shoes, you will understand how easy you have it. As a student in a wheelchair, traveling around campus is a downright nuisance. After all, we don’t have the luxury of using our legs to help glide us in the direction we are heading. Therefore, Rider needs to get its act together and start becoming more wheelchair accessible.
Let me point out a few areas of concern that need major renovations, starting with the library. Professors complain about how students are always getting their sources from the Internet and how they are not always credible. Well, when the campus library has these stacks of books that seem to go up and up and never end, it doesn’t take a genius to understand the culprit behind this travesty.
One time when I was doing research, I needed a book that was high up on the shelf. I could not reach it from my wheelchair. Thanks to my capability to stand, I managed to get the book.
My point here is that some wheelchair-bound students can’t stand at all and would then have to rely on a librarian for help. All students should be given the opportunity to be independent.
Another area that needs to be addressed is the Fine Arts elevator. Its size is smaller than average, and it breaks down regularly because it’s really old. It could only hold maybe a wheelchair and two people if they squeeze together. What makes this worse is that Rider is a top-notch University, and we came here to learn. Well, if learning is the priority, then a new elevator should be a no-brainer. There have been numerous times in the past when I hoped to ride the elevator and saw a red light glowing on the exterior, indicating that it was out of order. Ultimately, I was forced to skip class.
The residence halls are another problem area. I have to give Rider some credit, though, because the University constructed the New Building. It’s the only residence hall that has an elevator and state-of-the-art rooms. But every other residence hall gives disabled individuals the disadvantage because they have no elevators. Unfortunately, I witnessed it first- hand. I used to live in Olson and I was stuck on the first floor. It was disappointing because I could not visit my friends on the second floor.
Those are the major hassles that need to be corrected, since wheelchair-bound students would have to deal with them if they want to take advantage of what Rider has to offer. It is a shame that Rider has not done more.
While there are many more accessibility issues to take note of — like the inaccessibility in the fraternity houses and the lack of sidewalk cut-aways — I, as the voice of those in wheelchairs, have made clear the ones that seem to be the most pressing. So, we need to take action.