Section: Opinion

Middle Path should be accessible for all students, present and future

To the Editor:

Middle Path is inaccessible to students with disabilities and to those limited temporarily by injury. A current student writes:

“I have cerebral palsy, a disability that causes me to have poor balance and motor control. Structural barriers on campus prevent me from experiencing Kenyon to its fullest. Among these barriers, Middle Path remains the biggest problem. Its uneven surface compromises my balance when I walk over it. Even during good weather conditions, I have lost my footing and fallen. Additionally, its gravel makes it unsuitable for the passage of wheelchairs, walkers, and other assistive devices. Middle Path became especially hazardous this winter when the gravel froze over. Many of my friends slipped and fell at least once, while I fell several times a week.”

The College now plans to address Middle Path with an improved surface. But this new plan needs to be tested by wheelchairs, by students with disabilities and by the disability coordinator.

Five years ago, in April 2009, the faculty debated the state of Middle Path. We composed a statement, “Faculty Resolution to keep Middle Path at the center of campus by making it accessible.” The Chair of the Faculty, Professor of Political Science Pam Jensen, now emerita, submitted this statement to the Board of Trustees.

In February 2011, a Senate resolution urged “the Board of Trustees to keep the transition to a more accessible campus on their agenda.” In December 2011, the Collegian published an editorial signed by six editors that read, “The College should choose to stand in solidarity with past, current and future students with disabilities and make their experience definitively more welcoming by fully paving Middle Path.”

This spring, an admitted student eagerly visited Kenyon only to find herself blocked by Middle Path. Today, in 2014, Middle Path remains inaccessible. It is long past time for the College to solve this problem.

Joan Slonczewski
Professor of Biology

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