Mercyhurst should become more accessible

Libby Bullinger, Copy Editor

As a senior about to graduate, I have walked the Mercyhurst campus more times than I can count. From going to class to showing prospective students around the buildings, I am more than familiar with nearly every entrance and exit to the buildings around campus. A huge issue that I firmly believe needs to be addressed is the lack of accessibility on our campus.

Mercyhurst was built in the early 20th century when concepts like accessibility were not included in the construction plans. This is the case with many universities in the country and they have all had to adapt over the years as accessibility laws and building codes have developed. However, it seems as though Mercyhurst has not caught up to many other campuses of a similar size and type. As an Ambassador, I have toured many students and families around the Mercyhurst grounds, and something that every Ambassador dreads hearing is that they are giving a handicapped tour. This means that someone in the tour group has accessibility issues such as using a cane or wheelchair. The reason this is such a hassle as an Ambassador is because we have an entirely separate tour route to accommodate these campus visits. This involves propping doors, taking an incohesive route through campus to be able to use accessible walkways and avoid stairs, and not being able to show certain buildings and areas of the campus, which certainly does not give the best impression to prospective students and family members.

Although I have realized this issue for a while now, I am more aware of this issue and experiencing it first hand as I recently broke my foot. Simple things such as getting to class have become much more difficult with the lack of sidewalks around the townhouses, indirect pathways to get between buildings, almost no automatic door openers other than in the newest buildings, uneven concrete all around campus and the lack of elevators. Not to mention none of the upperclassman housing areas are accessible. Some of these issues will be much more easily addressed than others, but the safety and inclusion of all on campus must be revisited and prioritized in order to honor the mission we preach here at Mercyhurst.