The “Enhance” component of Kenyon’s Our Path Forward capital campaign aims to raise $80 million to “adapt our campus to 21st-century teaching and learning.” The construction of the West Quad is one part of this plan, and when its construction is complete, 90 percent of classrooms on campus will be accessible, according to the website for Our Path Forward. While we are encouraged by this number, we also insist that it is not enough.
In a video posted to Twitter on Sept. 20, Chloe Hannah-Drullard ’20, who was using a wheelchair at the time, struggled to get into a Kenyon Bookstore bathroom without an automatic door. In other videos, Hannah-Drullard showed furniture that blocked her access to an automatic door opener and a one-and-a-half inch ledge in front of Lentz House that made it difficult to get to her class inside without help. Buildings are often made accessible in accordance with the perceptions of the able-bodied.
Though the ledge in front of Lentz has since been fixed, these other areas of campus are only supposedly accessible. When 90 percent of classrooms are deemed accessible, will they actually be? Or will ledges and doors continue to stand in the way? And what about the other 10 percent? We also have concerns regarding the West Quad and the new library which will have compact shelving accessed by physically turning a wheel.
Kenyon has made accessibility a selling point in its capital campaign, and we are certainly pleased to see money pledged to improving campus accessibility, but 90 percent is not 100 percent, and we urge the College to make sure that the 90 percent that will be made accessible will truly be 90 percent.
The staff editorial is written weekly by editors-in-chief Cameron Messinides ’19 and Devon Musgrave-Johnson ’19, managing editor Grant Miner ’19 and executive director Matt Mandel ’19. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively.