Student Congress member Elijah Sanders has been to the Oakland University Office of Disability Support Services (DSS) multiple times in the few short months since he has been here on campus. As a physically disabled student, he has dealt firsthand with the problems this campus has with accessibility.
“OU is not accessible and this is not acceptable,” Sanders said.
Sanders cites broken bathroom stalls, automatic doors that would not open and cracks in the sidewalk that his wheelchair could not overcome among daily struggles for not only him, but for all of the disabled students on campus.
After being shut down by DSS time and again by a short list of legal obligations, Sanders decided to take matters into his own hands.
Following his election to Student Congress, Legislator Sanders began work immediately with his partner Ryan Fox on their proposal for the OUSC Accessibility Committee. Their goal is to make things easier for everyone, including not only the permanently disabled, but the temporarily handicapped as well.
First on the agenda for their proposal is the broken stalls in the bathrooms and the doors that don’t open. Another very important change is the sidewalks across campus — a minor inconvenience for someone who has to step over them, but for a wheelchair, these can stop it in its tracks.
“Getting things fixed is an automatic change,” Ryan Fox said.
However, there are certainly more changes required than just what is included in this proposal.
“It’s a multi-step process,” Elijah said.
There are more changes necessary to go through to make lives a little easier on campus, such as getting automatic door openers in the older buildings, elevators that work and are spacious enough to accommodate a wheelchair or a walker, more ramps.
These are the long-term goals. They may not be something we see in the near future, but are a definite goal for Sanders and Fox.
“Even before the committee was created,” Ryan said, “there has been a change just by talking about it.”
OUSC Accessibility Committee is not a paid chair committee. It is open to anyone who is willing to join, students simply have contact Fox or Sanders. Any volunteers are welcome even without being officially elected into the committee and its meetings will be open to all.