Tour raises accessibility awareness
Members of the Bowdoin community toured the campus in wheelchairs
and on crutches Tuesday on a route designed to point out the inaccessibility
of various campus buildings to handicapped individuals.
The tour highlighted a few, although not all, of the areas
around campus that are especially not conducive to handicapped individuals,
including the Dudley Coe Health Center, the first-year dorms, and Banister
Hall, which is also supposed to provide handicapped access the Chapel.
At the Dudley Coe Health Center, there is no wheelchair
ramp access. In addition, the close proximity of the several doors in
the entrance area would make it very difficult for a handicapped individual
to gain entry to the building even if there was a wheelchair ramp.
The first-year dorms are also inaccessible in general, and
the problem is even more substantial at Appleton Hall where the security
phone would be a far reach for someone in a wheelchair.
Banister Hall, which also provides access to the Chapel,
has a wheelchair ramp, but after pressing the handicap button to open
the door, there is not enough time to get up the ramp and inside the building
before the door closes. In addition, a person in a wheelchair would not
be able to use the bathroom just inside the building.
The tour was sponsored by FORWARD!, a disabilities awareness
student group led by Jaica Kinsman '99, and Team Zhara, the mock election
campaign sponsor of Zhara Malstedt '02. Approximately 20 people, including
President Barry Mills, Director of Residential Life Bob Graves, Coordinator
of Multicultural Student Programs Wil Smith, and Secretary of Student
Activities Sue Burtt, went on the tour.
According to Malstedt, the tour was the first of its kind
Malstedt also noted that the reason there are no handicapped
people at Bowdoin is because the lack of accessibility would not allow
them to function normally on campus.
Director of Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
Joann Canning said that as far as she is aware, there has never been a
student in a wheelchair who has chosen to come to Bowdoin in the recent
memory of the College or since the Americans with Disabilities Act was
put in place.
According to Canning, "The walk yesterday was meant
to open peoples' eyes to the need for greater attention to access on campus
for people with mobility challenges
.My hope is that yesterday's
walk will have the [decision makers] put accessible renovations higher
up on the priority list."
The wheelchairs and crutches used on the walk were loaned by area hospitals and pharmacies.