When it comes to accessibility, UC Berkeley is doing the bare minimum.
As a public university, UC Berkeley was originally created to ensure widespread and equitable access to education. But the campus is failing to live up to this mission when it comes to serving students with disabilities. This is not only unacceptable — it’s an embarrassment, especially considering that UC Berkeley is the home of the disability rights movement.
Many students with disabilities struggle to navigate a space laden with physical and bureaucratic obstacles. There are steep paths across campus that students must take circular routes to avoid — the path from Memorial Glade to the West Circle, for example, or the hill near the Faculty Club. And the stairs at the entrance to the Hearst Field Annex can only be avoided if a student coming from Southside takes a path through Sproul Plaza or the Bancroft Parking Structure.
While these spaces technically fulfill Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, requirements, students with disabilities still find them inaccessible. And the administration has only recently brought several spaces on campus up to these bare-minimum standards. Last year, an elevator in Wheeler Hall was determined not ADA compliant, and fake braille was found in the campus’s Connie & Kevin Chou Hall.
UC Berkeley administrators have taken steps in the right direction — for example, a universal locker room was recently opened in the Recreational Sports Facility, offering complete ADA accessibility. While this is a step forward, campus officials have simply not done enough to address the difficulties students with disabilities face.
The Disabled Students’ Program, or DSP, provides students with much-needed support and resources. Even on this front, however, the program has failed to make these resources easily accessible to its students.
Currently, students in the program are required to request accommodations for each class — and they must do this at the beginning of every semester. They are also required to work out the details of these accommodations with professors in each of their classes.
Some students, such as visiting student researcher Nancy Barker, have not been provided the services they need to receive their education. These cases have resulted in lawsuits and demands for change from student groups. These groups have repeatedly mobilized, calling on the campus to increase resources for students with disabilities and strengthen support for DSP.
The student activism on this issue is inspiring and invaluable. But why is the burden on students to demand these basic needs? It’s absurd that the campus isn’t already providing these necessary resources. The administration must not only meet ADA requirements but also go beyond to ensure that all of its students have equal access to the education they deserve.
Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.