Students voted on Tuesday to pass a referendum calling for a wheelchair-accessible pathway to Upper Campus, which should allow students with walking impairments to independently access Upper Campus residence halls.
“This change will not only make BC a better and more inclusive place for current students and community members with disabilities, but I also believe it will be a change that will resonate positively to prospective students and parents with disabilities who, without this pathway in place, may see their inability to access upper campus as a hindrance to their freshman experience should they choose to attend,” said Svea McNally, LSOE ‘22, Assistant Director of the Council for Students with Disabilities (CSD).
Of the 2,175 students that voted, 2,032 (93.42%) were in support of the referendum, reports McNally.
The initiative for an accessible path to Upper Campus began last year when the CSD of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) selected the ideal location for the path and introduced the idea to VP Moore and other administrators.
This year, the accessible path is a priority not only for the CSD, but also UGBC’s President and Executive Vice President, Christian Guma, CSOM ‘21, and Kevork Atinizian, CSOM ‘22, and its Diversity and Inclusion Director, Conor McCormick, MCAS ‘22. Moving forward, the CSD will present the plan, with strong evidence of student support, to the administration and demand that Upper be made accessible.
McNally points out that while parts of Newton Campus and College Road residence halls are accessible to students with walking impairments, “they shouldn’t be used as a way to deflect the fact that Upper Campus is completely inaccessible in that students with walking impairments cannot independently access it.”
McNally then elaborated on the meaning of “independently access” when talking about this initiative. “It can be argued that there is a driveway leading to Upper Campus, but it is way too steep for someone in a wheelchair to navigate on their own,” she said.
The proposed pathway would lead up to the back of Gonzaga/Fitzpatrick Hall. A blue emergency light, general lighting, and signs to indicate the existence of the path would also be installed. One challenge to this plan is that it would require the removal of a crosswalk pole, which currently makes the sidewalk too narrow to accommodate a wheelchair.
In a public statement, McNally, McCormick, and CSD Director Nick Claudio (MCAS ‘22) expressed: “We are happy to see that 93% of the people who voted on the referendum saw the necessity of an accessible route to Upper Campus...Not only do we hope that this referendum garners increased student support for our ongoing projects (ie. Eagle Escort, Stadium Accessibility, improving the accessibility of building entrances, etc.), but we also hope to use the number of students standing behind it as a way to show the administration how significant and necessary this pathway is.”
For more information and to follow the development of the Upper Campus Accessible Pathway, see the initiative’s Facebook page.