Legislators Elijah Sanders and Ryan Fox have made it their goal to make Oakland University accessible to all people, including the physically disabled. That was shown on Thursday, Nov. 19 at Kresge Library with the first official meeting for those curious about the newly forming OUSC Accessibility Committee.
The meeting was open for all who were curious and interested in joining the committee, however, more meetings of this nature will be held in the future. Also in attendance at this meeting was Linda Sisson, director of Disability Support Services (DSS).
The meeting touched primarily on a few important topics. One of these involved an immediate solution to the broken sidewalks across campus. Fox and Sanders brought their concerns to the head ADA architect. Their concerns were well received and they were asked to come up with a priority list as far as the sidewalks are concerned.
This was proposed to those in attendance at the meeting and the three priority sidewalks were decided to be the walk between Elliott Hall and the OC, the walk between the OC and Vandenberg and the sidewalk surrounding Bear Lake.
The most damaged and the heavier trafficked paths were taken into consideration as well as the bridge that stretches across the lake. However, Sisson informed the committee that a work order was already proposed to have the bridge corrected.
Another change Fox and Sanders hope to accomplish sooner is the replacement of an elevator in Elliott Hall. Fox described it as being “practically torn out of the wall.”
The committee agreed that this poses an issue for those who cannot take the stairs. This is not the only elevator out of commission on campus. Sanders recounted times where the elevator in Oak View broke down for weeks at a time.
While these are their goals now, Fox expects solutions to come with a longer wait.
“These are the more expensive changes,” he says. Replacing parts, maintaining parts or replacing elevators altogether is a bigger cost.
“Unless we talk about this,” Sisson said, “administration doesn’t know about this.” Fox agreed that word needed to be spread.
The committee plans to advertise their position on these topics as well. They discussed creating social media pages and posting articles with the Oakland Post and on Oakland’s website.
Sisson brought up that the administration does not know of a problem until someone speaks up. Without knowledge of the problem, it cannot be solved, according to Fox and supporter Grace Smith.
Sisson brought the meeting’s attention to DSS’s Report a Barrier. It is a function on their website that allows students to post their complaints with DSS about issues related to disability.
With door openers that do not work and handicapped bathroom stalls that are in disrepair, Fox and Smith added that there are other maintenance issues that pose problems. These and other issues can be brought to the attention of an RA or taken up with OUPD in extreme cases.
The committee will be creating an awareness campaign for this very purpose as soon at their next meeting.