By Denise Santana
Modern architecture is slowly updating California State University, San Bernardino, providing students with a new space to socialize and attend events. However, one student’s experience being disabled has highlighted the unspoken exclusion for people bound to their wheelchairs.
Eddie McCreight is a sociology major that is outspoken about the double standard between abled and disabled-bodied individuals. McCreight belongs to a small minority on campus that is rarely noticed. 80% of CSUSB students participating in a recent survey said they had never seen someone in a wheelchair on campus.
Acessuss bus stop located East of University Hall. Photo by Denise Santana.
Growing up, one of the first things McCreight noticed in Rialto was the limited sidewalks that forced him to ride his wheelchair along the road. Now, as an adult, he expressed his most current frustrations with the new student union on CSUSB’s campus.
“There was a fire drill here on campus and everybody was evacuating going down the stairs. And so I was up here and I was like, ‘Oh, what about me?’” said McCreight.
During the drill, an evacuation chair was used to assist McCreight down the three-story building. There were two evacuation chairs located on the third floor by the elevators, but McCreight wondered what would happen if more disabled students were present during a fire.
“So what if there were ten of us up here? How are we gonna get out?” McCreight questioned.
In addition to the lack of accessibility in architectural design for this community, McCreight has recognized a continued lack of respect for the few accommodations offered on campus.
McCreight’s biggest frustration involves accessing the bus stop in front of University Hall for disabled individuals, and the inappropriate use of it by abled individuals.
“That spot is designated for the access transportation company that disabled people use. People will still park there to wait for their children which makes it hard for my bus to get and come to me,” said McCeight.
This very incident happened on March 23, and as a witness, I decided to speak with a parking and transportation services officer when I noticed it. The officer said I could get dropped off and picked up as long as the time did not exceed five minutes. I witnessed many parents exceeding this time limit.
This lack of enforcement for campus rules infuriates disabled individuals like McCreight because, unlike abled students that get to ride the bus for free through their tuition, McCreight has to pay an additional $320 each semester to ride his bus.
This issue does not just affect McCreight either. Other students have noticed the lack of empathy for this community in their personal lives. Communication major, Esther Azalea knows firsthand what disabled individuals face, as she is a caretaker for her father.
“People don’t care for the accommodations at all, I’ve seen [abled] people use handicap placards at church and that makes it a challenge when those who need it can’t access that spot,” said Azalea.
The worst treatment Azalea has seen was ironically at “the happiest place on earth.”
“I went to Disneyland, people just kept cutting him off, hitting him, the only time they helped us was when we went on the rides,” said Azalea. “All they did was put us first, open the wider door one, and held the door open while we lifted my dad onto the ride.”
With the construction of the new $127 million Performing Arts Center at CSUSB, McCreight already assumes that the building will do the bare minimum in accommodations in order to comply with building regulations.
“They do just enough to where it meets the standards but they don’t go past that,” said McCreight.
The disproportionate access disabled individuals face is unfair and is something both disabled and abled individuals alike have to work toward changing.
Here at CSUSB, students can continue to make their voices heard and fight for more accessibility for disabled individuals. Students and staff should also hold themselves accountable in considering how their actions may be affecting disabled individuals in negative ways, such as blocking a disabled individual’s bus when picking up abled individuals from school. All students have a clear right to ease of access on CSUSB’s campus.
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