Picture this: You just finished your Friday classes on family weekend. Minivans full of loved ones are beginning to pour into Dayton, Ohio and the campus is buzzing with the pent up anticipation of front porch reunions. However, while everyone else is frantically cleaning their homes in hopes to portray some sort of put-togetherness to the rents, you’re making other plans. For you, hosting your whole family at your house is simply not possible. This is due to a loved one having a disability.
According to the National Institute of Health, just over 2.2 million Americans rely on wheelchairs for mobility. That’s about 7 percent of the population, and doesn’t even include individuals who use crutches, canes, and other assistive devices.
At Dayton, community is a buzzword. It’s the first thing you hear on a campus tour, it’s drilled into the heads of freshman during orientation week, and it’s emphasized at all school gatherings, masses, retreats, and graduation ceremonies. Community is more than just a word, it’s a promise, at heart of everything the university does.
However, on campus, wheelchair accessibility is hard to come by. Most houses in the student neighborhood have stairway entrances and almost all apartments lack elevators or wheelchair lifts. This shortage of equal access not only hurts the families of students here at UD, but it also lacks inclusion of professors, friends, and students themselves.
Inclusion, one of the main pillars of community, implies acceptance of all and the ability for every person to actively engage in society. The promise of community is broken a little bit each time an individual with a disability is unable to engage in campus life like everyone else. But we can actively work to make community a reality.
This problem can be solved if everyone comes together to bring about change. There are many groups on campus actively working to highlight this important issue. However, we need more awareness. Bringing the issue to the attention of students, faculty, and staff will bring it to life.
Someday in the future, it is my hope that no family members will be held back from visiting students and no students will be restricted in their opportunity to attend The University of Dayton
Photo courtesy of udayton.edu.