November 18, 2010 Volume CXXVIII Issue 10

Student Identifies Even More

Back Page Editor/ The Boy Who Lived

It is always much more interesting for this Editor to receive irrational and asinine email responses to the views expressed on the Back Page; confirmation that this Page offends the idiotic is both pleasurable and entertaining. This Editor will also allow that attempts to thwart the Back Page from the Opinion Column Fogeys are equally as, for lack of a better word, interesting. Unfortunately, there are occasionally responses to the Back Page that are constructive, informative, sensible and beneficial to share as well. In response to the last issue addressing the general lack of real diversity and prevalence of manufactured bureaucratic garbage for the sake of accolades, an email was received concerning genuine efforts to bring about some complexity in the college’s demographics. There is apparently in the making an Intensive English Program (IEP) designed to prepare students from foreign countries for eventual transfer to Georgetown College. The idea is that foreign students, academically qualified to go to Georgetown but lacking sufficient English skills, will be able to achieve proficiency in English such that success at Georgetown will become very possible rather than being complicated by a language barrier. Ideally, students from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Haiti will be present and participating in the IEP as soon as next semester. So, write this down, this Editor is willing to allow the potential for an intelligent and successful move towards progress on the part of the college.

However, it remains to be seen how successful an attempt towards progress will actually be, given the relative failure of other ideas that have been theoretically every bit as appealing. Other interesting shortcomings that have followed ideas that sounded amazing in theory include the amazing dorm/housing structure for students and jockeys by the time of the now distant World Equestrian Games. That idea was also awesome. There is also still a sign up for the eventual construction of another relative “super structure” that looks sweet on cardboard but remains unlikely to ever be seen by a student planning to come to Georgetown in the next decade. Skepticism all around. It is also worth pointing out, reminiscent of one of this Page’s first articles this year, that our housing is absolutely awful. In a course discussion, it was asserted on one view that housing, for any individual, can be largely determinate of physical, mental and social well-being. From this perspective it quickly becomes quite clear that our housing diminishes our well-being on many levels. At least we are fortunate enough to have all of our other worries absolved by the presence of academics and friendship.

But we must be careful not to digress from a more focused attempt to identify the problems ever plaguing our campus. It is clearly easy to hop around from one thing to another that leads to disappointment, disgust, outrage, or ultimate surrender to depression without any real solution in sight. The Back Page can only dabble in addressing the hopeless future for so long before a problem with an easy solution presents itself. The issue that has unfortunately come to attention this week is the general lack of handicap accessibility on campus.

Part of the complexity of diversity is that it does not encompass merely members of different races or socioeconomic backgrounds but also individuals of varying physical capability. It is a travesty that there is not far more handicap accessibility on campus and to dispute this fact would be one of the more condemnable actions a member of the faculty or administration could carry out. The only appropriate treatment of the issue is an admittance of the college’s shortcomings and an immediate resolve to carry out conversation and construction around campus that alleviates the problem. The Student Center is not really handicapped accessible; service elevators do not really count. Pawling Hall is not accessible beyond the first floor; the rest of the floors are broken up by short staircases. All of our dorms are certainly not handicap accessible or equally available on all floors to all levels of physical ability. There are certainly issues with handicapped access to certain labs and classrooms in Asher as well. In general, the state of sidewalks and the lack of ramps or other architectural adjustments makes it considerably more difficult for anyone with lack of complete physical capability to function as a normal student.

The fact of the matter is that one might argue that classes can be moved around to different rooms to fit a student’s schedule, or that the giant service elevators are sufficient towards accessibility requirements. But this is foolish ground to stand upon. Students with any sort of physical disability deserve the right to access that does not unfairly differentiate their college experience from those able to move up and down long flights of stairs without any inconvenience. Were everything in place for accessibility as it should be, a student requiring a bit more architectural assistance for mobility to and from classes in any room, or a room in any level of any dorm, would be able to do things as similarly as possible to everyone else.

Ideally, a student with physical ability that makes mobility on campus currently more difficult should be able to enjoy improvements that do not separate them from the rest of the student body. Surely there is some alternative to current access that would be convenient for those who need it but built in well enough that it would not serve to disrupt anyone else. There is no reason for physical ability to stand as a barrier between any two students even with regards to something as simple as campus mobility.

Modifications to current buildings are something that must take place if Georgetown is to claim to value all students equally, rather than just the students who best fit the way things currently exist. It is not the job of the Back Page Editor to draw up blueprints for handicapped accessibility and go about building the necessary structures; surely somewhere someone is getting paid more than this Editor does to write and not doing their job as efficiently. I expect an email for that one.

But, as everyone is well aware, the things that need immediate correction are obviously things like the curb around Giddings. Is it not ridiculous that someone somewhere supposed (a) that the curb was essential to the college’s first impression on anyone, (b) that that loud (expletive) machine was fun for anyone, including the astronaut hired to use it, or (c) that one coat of white paint after three weeks really looks better than an old one? How about we see this snappy addressing of curb issues applied to something like mold in ALL dorms, shower ventilation, or the white sandpaper placed conveniently close to toilets for wiping and whatnot. Just kidding. We go to Georgetown. Not, you know, a college that manages funds particularly well or anything like that.

disclaimer: the contents of the back page are not necessarily true


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