Volume 93, Issue 17

Tuesday, September 28, 1999


Editorial Board 1999-2000

A matter of priorities

A matter of priorities

In Western's latest move of brilliant planning, a person's independence must be compromised in the name of financial feasibility.

A student restricted to a motorized wheelchair has been scheduled to attend classes in the McIntosh Gallery, the only building on campus which does not provide adequate wheelchair access.

The building, which has three floors, does not allow third-year arts history student Barbara Hoy access to the upper floors, or even in the front door, as there are no ramps or elevators.

When the McIntosh Gallery was renovated this summer to accommodate the influx of students and the limited amount of classroom space on campus, everyone applauded the upgrade which included structural as well as aesthetic improvements. It was undoubtedly agreed the newly recovered marble floors looked marvellous.

However, it's disheartening to think while the building was being renovated, no one ever thought to ensure it could accommodate all students, even students in wheelchairs.

The Ontario Human Rights Code outlines the university's responsibility to build all new facilities to be completely wheelchair-accessible, no matter how loudly the university may complain about financial feasibility.

Although the gallery may not be a new building, it has been newly renovated and a ramp should have been at the top of the list.

Tuition dollars are paid by every student, no matter who or what kind of student they are. Tuition dollars from a physically challenged person are the same dollars paid by a Mustang athlete. To bypass the needs of any kind of student in particular, either disabled or athletic, is discriminatory.

Every student has the basic right to be able to get to their classroom. Obviously this right has been ignored. Even though fundraising is currently taking place to add an elevator and a ramp, it will be three to five years before the building sees any results.

The fact of the matter is the gallery should be accessible to the physically challenged regardless of whether or not their class takes place in it. To schedule such a person in such a building is to further insult our responsibility as a post-secondary institute as well as deny a student the right to go to classes, for which he or she has paid a substantial amount of money.

In this day and age, when we are welcoming state-of-the-art stadiums, virtual reality centres and when students are paying higher tuition levels than ever, one would think the university would at least be able to provide the ladder – or in this case, an elevator – to such expensive and allegedly "higher" education.

Maybe when such discriminated against students receive their tuition statements in the mail next year, they should respond will a very simple, "Sorry, this is not financially feasible."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999