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Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Hamline Undergraduate Student Congress talks accessibility

Posted on 11 June 2018 by Calvin

By TRISTAN D. HAYES
The Hamline Undergraduate Student Congress (HUSC) was hard at work this year. The organization, which is made up of student representatives who are passionate about making Hamline University better for all students, decided to focus on increasing accessibility on campus.

Broadly, HUSC defined accessibility as the ability of a space to meet an individual’s physical, mental, and emotional needs. Using this definition, several areas were identified for improvement on Hamline’s campus, with the top priorities being a lack of wheelchair accessible restrooms and the lack of a ramp for West Hall (a building housing classrooms and offices). These two projects were chosen as top priorities because they directly impacted students’ access to safe, comfortable learning environments.

Photo right: Members of the Hamline University Student Congress hold posters pushing their “Let’s Talk Accessibility!” campaign. (Photo provided)

To address these areas of improvement, the Board of Elected Representatives, a committee of HUSC, voted to allocate $40,000 to improving accessibility on campus. This money could be used on any project that the Board of Elected Representatives agreed would make a positive impact on campus accessibility.

Through a partnership with the Hamline University Facilities Department, it was decided that a ramp for West Hall would likely cost more than $40,000. Accessible restrooms, however, were well within the budget, and HUSC resolved to allocate the $40,000 budget to install power-operated doors on restrooms across campus. Additionally, HUSC is continuing to advocate for the West Hall ramp and is in the process of working with the University to fund the ramp.

Along with the restroom renovations, HUSC is working to raise awareness of accessibility issues on campus through its “Let’s Talk Accessibility” campaign.

One way this campaign has raised awareness is through posters which urge students to think about how the space around them impacts accessibility. Along with the posters, HUSC hosted an “Accessibility Fair” in late April—which invited members of the Hamline University community to talk with HUSC representatives about the work HUSC has been doing, as well as things students can do to improve accessibility on the Hamline Campus. Attendees were encouraged to sign a banner, pledging to think about accessibility as they go through their daily lives.

Going forward, HUSC plans to continue advocating for accessibility. Some ideas for future accessibility projects include making different language options available on the Hamline.edu website, providing additional food options in the cafeteria to provide for students’ dietary needs, and focusing on thorough snow and ice removal during the winter.

Of course, it will likely take years to implement all of the changes HUSC would like to see, but with a strong foundation being created through this year’s work, the future looks bright.