The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

Student-Led Task Force aims to Increase Campus Accessibility

Hannah Crawford
The accessibility walk through took place on October 27.

Erin Hila, a second-year student, took to social media to express her grievances as a mobility aid user on the San Marcos campus. This led her to begin the task force with fellow campus faculty and students’ support. Since the Spring 2023 semester, there are 15 faculty members and around 10 students collaborating on many projects to help ensure the comfort and safety of those with mobility disabilities.  

Hila had originally taken inspiration from the UC system and other universities to implement a mobility assistance shuttle on the university campus. However, after learning that the implementation could take multiple years, she (with the help of campus representatives and students) decided to begin short-term projects. These projects range from improving campus infrastructure to increasing the number of options available for additional assistance. 

The goal is to, of course, increase accessibility, but to also inform the campus community of these options and to spread awareness. The task force’s current proposals include additional disabled parking, increased/improved signage, and a mobility assistance shuttle program. Dr. Aswad Allen, the Chief Diversity Officer and a faculty collaborator on the task force commented on his hopes for the future [of the task force]. 

“I envision at some point, we’ll have a combination of support from our community that would not only include assistance moving locations, but also education around accessibility,” Dr. Aswad Allen said. 

The task force’s first step towards an inclusive and accessible university campus was the campus walkthrough hosted on October 27. The walkthrough allowed students, alumni, and faculty from diverse backgrounds to discuss their thoughts and ideas on how to improve the campus. Representatives from Student Affairs, the Office of Inclusive Excellence, Disability Support Services, and Facilities attended the event to take note of participants’ concerns and to help create solutions.  

The key talking points included flashier signage, installation of slider doors with wider entrances, updating older buildings, and creating wheelchair-accessible pathways. In addition to an increase in accessibility, participants also noted the importance of bringing awareness and education to the university population. Hila commented that she wants the university to be transparent about its inclusivity by having it show within its actions.  

“I want the inclusivity to be shown,” Hila said. 

Upon implementation, these features will be available for students using mobility aids for any reason, including disability, injury, or any other reason. Although additional logistics are still in the works, the student-led task force is doing its part to make sure the campus is accessible to all students. More public forums and walkthroughs are expected in the near future, to get involved email [email protected]. 

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