Once again, UC Berkeley has failed to make its buildings accessible for all students

CAMPUS ISSUES: Students who live in campus housing should not have to fight for basic accessibility

Emily Bi/Staff

For nearly three weeks from late October to mid-November, a UC Berkeley residence building in Unit 3 failed to meet the most basic accessibility standard — students had to go without an elevator in the eight-story structure.

Seriously? For years, UC Berkeley has repeatedly and appallingly failed to ensure that campus buildings are accessible to all students. This is the latest in a long list of unacceptable blunders.

At the residence building Norton Hall, students with disabilities were unable to comfortably access their own homes. This is especially problematic in residence halls where most of the services students depend on are spread out across numerous floors and buildings. Everyday tasks — such as the ability to attend classes or use bathrooms, laundry rooms and dining halls — were rendered nearly impossible for these students because of insufficient infrastructure. Simply put, the campus’s failure to quickly resolve this issue prevented students with disabilities from receiving the education they are paying for.

This specific case at Unit 3 is far from an exception to the rule. There have been numerous incidents in which campus administration has failed to do even the bare minimum for students with disabilities. An elevator in the newly renovated Wheeler Hall was not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, for nearly one month after the building opened. Classrooms in the newly constructed Connie and Kevin Chou Hall were labeled with fake Braille. The campus has also faced several lawsuits for other accessibility issues.

Sure, the campus later made the elevator in Wheeler Hall ADA-compliant and replaced the fake Braille with real Braille. And yes, the elevator in Norton Hall has since been fixed. But this recent issue just proves once again that the campus continuously fails to prioritize the needs of students with disabilities.

Norton Hall is not the only campus housing that has had accessibility issues — many students have complained about broken or nonfunctioning elevators in other residential buildings. The elevator problems in this Unit 3 building are just emblematic of a larger trend of inaccessibility on campus.

These problems are not contained within the parameters of campus. The city of Berkeley is notorious for its lack of affordable housing, and the search for living accommodations is even more challenging for those with disabilities. At the very least, students should be able to rely on the accessibility of campus residential buildings. But far too often, this has not been the case. UC Berkeley housing ranks among the most expensive in the nation, and students should be able to access the facilities they were promised.

It is unbelievable that students must continuously fight for the accommodations they need on campus. Time and time again, the campus has made egregious errors that have prevented all students from receiving the education they deserve. When will UC Berkeley administrators realize that enough is enough?

Editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.