Any student at Boston College can relate to the dreadful sprint from one class to the next across campus. Any freshman on Upper Campus can relate to the out-of-breath wheezing after walking up to their dorm. Most importantly, any student with a minor foot injury can relate to the painful realization that getting around just got a lot more difficult for them. It is a nightmare for an athlete with a torn ACL to navigate campus, let alone someone with a permanent walking disability.
The fact that Boston College is wildly inaccessible for students with disabilities has never been hidden, of course. Even the orientation leaders have to stress the importance of preventing injuries to incoming freshmen who are oblivious to how much they’re required to walk. There are some forms of transportation, such as Eagle Escort, that give students with issues walking a way to make it around campus. But, for the majority of these students, climbing “The Heights” is never an easy task.
For 60% of freshmen living on campus, the most daunting walk is the hike from Main Campus to Upper Campus, where 10 residence halls lie. From McElroy Commons, students travel across College Road and up multiple flights of stairs to reach their dorm located at the top of the hill. Unless a student has access to a car, there is no other way to reach these dorms. However, in November of last year, the Undergraduate Government of Boston College passed a resolution for a new accessible pathway to Upper Campus. The Council for Students with Disabilities, a division of UGBC, first encouraged this idea because of the growing concerns of students that found it difficult to make it to Upper Campus. Not only did it prove difficult for students living there to make it home, but it also forced students with walking disabilities to skip social events that required such an arduous journey. The push from the Council and UGBC received a 93% approval rating from students followed by a unanimous decision from the members of UGBC to pass the resolution. The cost of the new project was estimated to amount to around $500,000. This was a major development for the Council and was covered by The Gavel when first announced. But, has the administration actually instituted any progress with this resolution?
When it comes to reform at Boston College, there is often a discrepancy between what the student body calls for and what the administration allows. Although the resolution was passed almost a year ago, the Board of Trustees has yet to approve the project. Don’t blame the hefty price tag though; Boston College’s endowment increased by $1.2 billion in the past year alone. This raises the total endowment to $3.8 billion, a massive amount compared to what is needed to improve accessibility.
Boston College prides itself on its inclusivity, especially for students with disabilities. On the university’s information page for accessibility, they state, “Boston College is committed to ensuring the campus is accessible.” However, their lack of action towards this goal reveals that the administration is focused on other, more profitable issues. It seems as though Boston College will include anyone within their campus as long as they can figure out how to get there on their own. Even if there are steps being taken to provide accessibility throughout Boston College, it looks like it will be a while until the administration finally makes tangible changes.