Saint Mary’s needs to become more accessible for its students
By Madison Sciba
With everyone bringing to light the problems with Title IX at Saint Mary’s, another issue needs to be addressed. There is a severe lack of accessibility on campus for students with disabilities. Grace Martin (class of ‘25) is one of the many Saint Mary’s students who has struggled as a result of the poor accessibility options on campus. Grace’s biggest issue so far has been with finding accessible housing on campus. As of right now, the only option Grace has for on-campus housing is Aquinas Hall, no other resident hall can accommodate students with disabilities. Grace explained, “My ability to live on campus is very limited as of right now, the only building that is fully accessible is Aquinas Hall. I might have the chance to live in Claeys North next year but it is not fully accessible, the room is but the doors to get in the building are not. The walk down to the main campus is something I also have to worry about.” Students paying the very expensive tuition SMC charges (tuition which is increasing for the next year) as well as the costs of living on campus should not have to worry about whether they are able to walk from their dorm building to their classes in the center of campus. Also, why is only one building on campus built to accommodate? Shouldn’t there be more options for students with disabilities? Upper-class students don’t want to live in Aquinas and be surrounded by buildings full of freshmen. Grace was told that she could possibly live in Claeys North next year, however, they won’t be able to make the building accessible until months into the school year. Why wasn’t the building already accessible?
Housing is not the only issue students with disabilities have faced on campus. The use of the pavilions in place of classrooms created an issue for Grace and other students who cannot get up to the turf field easily. In regards to a class she wanted to take in the fall of 2021, “this past fall I had to drop a class that I needed to take for my major because the professor would not move the class out of the pavilions.” While the pavilions are finally leaving campus and classes are now all indoors, it is outrageous that a student at SMC has to drop a class because the school could not provide accommodations.
When asked: what was the biggest problem she faced that was caused by SMC’s lack of accessibility? Grace responded by saying, “The lack of awareness of certain accessibility things on campus and not much communication with me directly.” There needs to be more acknowledgment on the campus of how Saint Mary’s campus is not accessible for all of its students.
Students with food allergies and medical dietary restrictions have struggled with eating in the dining hall. Lauren Stadt (class of ‘24) has had Celiac Disease for over 15 years, and, as a result, she cannot eat any gluten or anything that has even had cross-contamination with gluten. “On weekends the dining hall does not have ingredients listed, which makes it difficult for me to figure out if I can actually eat there.” She explained. Although the Allergy-Free Zone is supposed to be free of all gluten products, Lauren said that she has come across several things that contain gluten. Something that can cause serious issues unless those students are super vigilant about what they are eating from the Allergy-Free Zone.
While SMC has been trying to make the campus more accessible for all students, they still have a long way to go.
Ryan Ford '23,