Lack of physical, academic accessibility on campus
What you should know
Of Columbia’s 19 residence halls, eight are not wheelchair accessible. Six academic buildings are only accessible via secondary entrances, and one is entirely inaccessible. Additionally, even technically accessible buildings still possess barriers such as non-automatic doors, narrow hallways, and entire floors without elevator access. And for students with mental disabilities, receiving accommodations depends entirely on the whims of the professor, making academic accessibility unreliable.
What happened last year
Students with disabilities formed a coalition called the Disability Action and Support Network to share information about campus accessibility and pressure administrators to address barriers. Support for students with disabilities was an occasional topic of conversation across undergraduate student councils in the spring semester, and the University Senate formed a subcommittee to address campuswide accessibility around the same time. But while Campus Services said it would attempt to make more residence halls accessible as it gradually renovates them, little administrative action has been taken to make the University more accessible.
What to look out for this semester
Few tangible steps have been taken to better support students with disabilities. That could change in the coming months, however. The Office of Disability Services—previously criticized for ineffectively coordinating with other offices—will now be aided by a newly hired director of student wellness. And with months of prioritization and planning behind it, the University Senate’s subcommittee is expected to make specific suggestions for increased accessibility to Campus Services.