As I start my senior year, I have been reflecting on my experience attending St. John’s as a student with a physical disability.
Academically, St. John’s is wonderful,and allows students multiple opportunities to succeed.
I have also had the opportunity to meet wonderful professors and students.
Yet, I have to admit that my emotions are torn.
For those with physical disabilities other aspects of campus life are severely lacking.
The overall inaccessibility of the Queens campus is where it seems to lack the most.
From certain entrances not having automatic doors (Marillac and D’Angelo Center buildings), to not being able to access the elevator in Marillac due to overcrowding of students who could (and should) take the stairs.
I understand that these might seem like small issues to some, but for someone with a physical disability, and a wheelchair user, constantly needing assistance hinders my self-esteem.
Also, it perpetuates the image that those with disabilities are helpless.
The issue surrounding the automatic doors can easily be fixed. It surprises me that in 2018, not all entrance doors on the Queens campus are accessible.
I pay tuition like everyone else but yet, I feel shortchanged in what is truly available to me as a student.
Not being able to access all that this University has to offer affects not only the academic aspect of college, but the social opportunities that lead me to feel like an outsider.
It is important to note, that I have brought my concerns to the Office of Students with Disabilities.
Case manager, Veronica Maggi, has been very helpful in securing my academic accommodations.
She has also brought my concerns to her supervisors about the overall accessibility of the campus.
Unfortunately, no major changes have been implemented.
Is it because of financial resources?
Or is it a lower priority due to a small number of students with physical disabilities?
I don’t know. By making the campus more accessible, wouldn’t that increase the student population of those with disabilities?
I realize St. John’s has worked very hard in making the campus and community more inclusive regarding different religions, gender, race, etc.
My hope is that my experience will help the next class of students easily navigate throughout campus.
Making the campus more accessible creates an even more diverse and welcoming atmosphere that will include ALL students.