First, traveling between classes is already a relatively unsafe situation for those that have trouble getting around. During the colder months, I found myself taking twice as long as typical when traveling from the TMCB to the JKB. I had to walk on sleet every day. Fortunately, the sleet would melt relatively quickly as it became later in the day, but that doesn’t mean it’s an acceptable or safe condition for me to adapt to. At 9am there is a rush of kids heading south on campus and that gives me and the others heading toward the JKB a significantly smaller piece of the sidewalk. I should not have to worry about being knocked over, slipping, or being pushed off the sidewalk. So, at the very least, the sidewalks should be cleared to limit the risk in those situations.
Next, I’ve spent a lot of time with someone in a wheelchair. While he always tried to be independent, the buttons to open doors in many locations present their own obstacle. Sometimes objects obscure the button, or it’s too close to the edge of the sidewalk. The accessibility buttons are outdated and as a computer science major, I think it’s time we rely on more efficient and helpful technologies like Portal. Technological advances in nearly every category seek to remove buttons wherever possible. The best example of this is with smartphones, but automatic doors have even been doing it for years. I’m referring to the automatic sliding doors. The new engineering building was recently completed and I can’t understand why we are invested in innovation and engineering when it applies to a major, but not when the innovation can actually be applied to solve real campus issues.
Elevators. I can’t count how many times elevators have been malfunctioning. I remember a time when I was sick and needed to get to my car, but the elevator in the JFSB kept taking me up rather than down to the parking garage. I would press the button, but once it got back down to the main floor, it would wipe my floor selection and begin going up again.
Lastly, we speak of serving, understanding, and loving others. There’s an unfortunate culture throughout the world that is still quite present at BYU. That is, people are always staring at me. Many people make insensitive comments that stick with me for days. Particularly, one of my professors said something really offensive to me. It was so twisted I brushed it off in the moment, but it came back to hurt me quite a bit because of how infuriated I was that a tenured professor at BYU could be so incredibly ignorant. People look at me and make comments as if I have an undesirable life. Whatever people want to believe, my life is great and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have my struggles, but I recognize where those struggles have shaped me to become who I am today. There’s no way to achieve net zero ignorance or completely rid campus of people who stare or saying ridiculous things, but we could definitely spread more awareness of it. We are so concerned about not offending and accommodating (socially especially) minority groups in the LGBTQ community or those that are of a race other than white. Why don’t we teach to be conscious and respectful of those in all situations? We need more awareness of this issue on campus. I’m constantly walking around on campus and people are here with their children or middle schoolers are on a trip for school, I shouldn’t feel embarrassed walking between classes because a child shouts something ridiculous or because middle schoolers are laughing and pointing. If people are visiting our campus, we should expect a certain level of respect from them toward the students. Again, I’m not asking for perfection in this situation, but people need to know that we have students here trying to focus on education and all these visitors should not be distracting students or making them feel uncomfortable. Education should be our priority, not simply welcoming everyone onto our campus for various events and activities.