The Movement.

“I can completely relate to this issue. I’ve been hobbling around campus in a knee brace for the past four weeks and I was surprised to find that many of the older buildings don’t provide any accommodation for handicapped students. I would have to walk up 30 stairs on my injured leg… not fun.” – Alix

Hey Chapman, how would you like to walk 30 stairs after having knee surgery? I applaud Alix for continuing to walk up those stairs. I probably would have just ditched those classes.

Some of you guys might be asking, “Why didn’t she go talk to Jason McAlexander, the Disabilities Specialist?” I don’t think this policy is known very well to students. I was completely oblivious to classroom changing prior to writing this blog. So I hope that by writing this blog, students will become more informed of Chapman’s policies and rather than hopping up stairs or walking on a bad knee, that you will be able to contact Jason and be accommodated- at least until elevators are installed in every building!

“Is there a particular reason for this topic? I want to see the passion behind this in your blog.” – Kaitlyn

Fortunately, I have never experienced inaccessibility at Chapman University due to a broken leg or wheelchair confinement.

However, after taking Sociology- Abuse of the Disabled during Interterm, I felt like this was something that needed to be addressed. I, too, was completely unaware of the struggles that some may face due to this. I believe that most Chapman students do not realize this issue because we are all fortunate to be able to use our legs. It is something that is most often taken for granted.

“Wow, I would have never even realized the lack of wheelchair access if you hadn’t made this blog.” – Molly

“This is a really important issue that absolutely needs to be brought to attention. It’s something that I’ve never thought about or noticed before, and I am anxious to see what comes of this!” – Sean

Unlike other students who may have had a family member not be able to see their rooms or their classrooms, I was never one of them. I’m a commuter so there was really no need to dorm as I live 15 minutes from Chapman and as a transfer, my parents never really saw the campus, except for Chapman’s Global Citizens Award- and that was even before I was a student! So no, there is no personal connection to the topic. However, I learned so much during my interterm class that I do believe that something must be done. Chapman University takes pride in diversity and in creating an personalized program for every student so I believe that we can go a step further.

Unfortunately, some of my classmates have experienced the frustration with loved ones not being able to access dorms or classrooms.

My cousin has severe Cerebral palsy and when he visited Chapman it was so hard for him to see all of the building, including my dorm. There were few tables available for him to sit at and it was just a really draining experience for myself and my family.” – Dani

My great aunt is in a wheel chair as well as on oxygen and was unable to visit my dorm room as well as several of the class rooms that I had classes in in the semester that she visited me in 2009. Very upsetting and uncomfortable for my whole family, as well as many many members of the Chapman community as well.” – Erin

“It’s true, many parts of our campus (especially around Memorial, Smith, Reeves and Roosevelt Hall) are inaccessible to people with wheelchairs, and considering we have been around for so long, you would think the school would find ways to accommodate every person’s needs.” – Amanda

“I think this is a great topic to discuss. Most people don’t seem to realize the lack of wheelchair accessibility at our school unless they are the ones in the wheel chair or using the crutches themselves. I think this blog will help open up the eye of all Chapman students and fuel them to help you with your change.” – Maddison

So how about it Chapman? Let’s get movement started!

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Your Brand Here!

Chapman University is filled with generous donors. (Thank you!) So why don’t we find donors to sponsor an elevator in our historic buildings? A name synonymous with the Chapman name = ultimate branding, no? I’ll be honest, I had no clue who George Argryos was prior to coming to Chapman, nor did I know who Cecil B. DeMille was. And I’m sure most of Chapman students didn’t know either, unless I was just the odd ball out. Anyways, thats besides the point. The fact that they have had buildings named after them made us students aware of who they are and what they did. I’m sure that there are several philanthropists who would love to be a part of Chapman University’s history. We’re a very reputable school and being the next generation, these sponsors should be targetting us. And what better way to make a generous donation? Of course it’s not easy task but I believe if we really put our minds and heart to it, it can be done. Chapman University has an exceptionally business school (named after George Argyros) and an amazing PRA program in the Dodge School of Media Arts (named after Kristina and Lawrence Dodge). I’m pretty sure that if we could get both schools together, we could create an amazing business plan, media/sponsorship kit as well as dedicated students to this cause to help secure a donor.

Panther Love.

Back on the Chapman website, I looked into our Mission statement and Code of Ethics and it definitely makes me proud to be a Panther.

Mission Statement: The mission of Chapman University is to provide personalized education of distinction that leads to inquiring, ethical and productive lives as global citizens.

Code of Ethics: (The rest can be found here.)

  • Respect for Persons: We treat each person with civility, understanding and respect. Behavior that demeans, harasses, exploits or otherwise treats individuals unfairly has no place in our university.
  • Valuing Diversity: We promote a multicultural community that embraces a diversity of people, ideas and experiences. We strive to be accepting and respectful of differences in age, class, disability, ethnicity, gender, language, national origin, political viewpoint, race, religious and spiritual beliefs, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status.

I absolutely love everything that Chapman University stands for and the education that I am lucky to receive here.  Never have I enjoyed school so much. The campus, the professors, everything about the school is beyond my expectations. I’d like to remind everyone that I am not anti-Chapman, I just wish that everyone could have the opportunity to experience Chapman University the way I did.

Again, Chapman University is still abiding by ADA regulations.

Found on ed.gov -> Office for Civil Rights (click to be redirected)

Do all buildings have to be made physically accessible?

No, not necessarily. While buildings constructed after the Section 504 regulation was issued (that is, those built since 1977) must be fully accessible, older buildings do not have to be made fully accessible. For older buildings, the law requires that the program or activity be made accessible. A common way this is done is to relocate the program to another building that is accessible.

Vote!

Students, staff, faculty and everyone else who have had the opportunity to embrace Chapman’s campus, please vote! It’s very much appreciated! Let’s help make Chapman University an even better school than it already is!

FAQ: Why isn’t this addressed?

As I was doing research regarding wheel chair accessibility at Chapman University on our website (www.chapman.edu/disabilities), I found little to no information regarding this problem. Chapman University seems to address every other disability (Learning Disabilities, Blindness/Deafness, etc) but not so much on this issue. Why’s that? Is it because we really have nothing to be proud about? Of course the Chapman University website is to showcase our amazing features, it’s no wonder that they isn’t much information provided on an issue that is much neglected- or unaware of. On the Services Available to Students with Disabilities page, this is what is listed.
  • Receives and evaluates documentation provided by students to verify disabilities
  • Consults with students about appropriate individualized accommodations based upon documentation and arranges individualized accommodations for students (e.g. testing accommodation referrals and recommendations)
  • Certifies eligibility for accommodation(s)
  • Serves as an advocate for students with faculty or administrators
  • Arranges for and/or refers students to auxiliary aides (devices or services that compensate for a disabling condition; i.e., qualified interpreters, TTYs, qualified readers, assistive technology, textbooks in alternate format, etc.)
  • Training for assistive technology
  • Provides information and individual counseling to students regarding disability issues and their legal rights and responsibilities
  • Conducts informational and training programs regarding services to persons with disabilities for the faculty and staff
  • Maintains access to multiple databases to provide textbooks in alternate format

Examples of Accommodations that are arranged by Disability Services

  • Coordination of special arrangements to meet individual test-taking needs
  • Volunteer peer Notetakers
  • Permission to use a voice recorder in lecture classes
  • Sign Language interpretation
  • Real Time Captioning Services
  • Special tables and chairs in the classroom
  • Facilitation of obtaining books in alternate formats

There are so many accommodations available for students with learning disabilities but why not those in a wheelchair? Yes, I do realize that we are a University, with “learning” as their highest priority but aren’t we all high priorities?

The same goes for the other pages as well. The closest thing I found regarding CU’s Wheelchair accessibility is

  • Special tables and chairs in the classroom

That simply isn’t enough. What if these students cannot even get into the rooms with these special tables and chairs? Chapman, we really need to step up our game and address this matter. It is a big deal, regardless of how many students are wheelchair bound. We’re rapidly growing and the Chapman name is more honorable than ever, therefore, let’s continue to welcome our students with open arms and elevators, ramps and wide enough hall ways!

Hey Chapman!

Reading an article, it made me wonder why Chapman University does not take special precautions on campus for wheelchair accessibility.

So Hey Chapman! Why don’t we…

– Have a Chapman Ambassador or someone from the Student Body to walk around campus once a semester and make sure that the entire campus, including the dorms and parking lots are accessible to our wheelchair guests and students?

So I am aware that Chapman University is slowly taking steps to confront this matter; however, I don’t believe that it is being done fast enough. Yes, only 4% of Chapman students are registered as disabled; nevertheless, they are just the same as the rest of the 96% student population. Why is it that these 4% of students cannot enjoy the Chapman campus like the rest of us?

Following up with Jason’s interview in the previous post.

Jocelyn: You said that classrooms will be accommodated to students needs. So hypothetically speaking, if I were to break a leg today (midway into the semester) and could not access a classroom, will the entire classroom be moved for me?
Jason: If you broke your leg and couldn’t climb stairs in one of the historic buildings; we would have the classroom moved to a room w/o steps or accessible via an elevator. That’s an informal accommodation by the University (that I would facilitate), but it’s not mandated by the ADA because a broken leg is not considered a disability.

Chapman does a great job in using alternate ways to accomodate students but if I was really in that situation, I think I would be quite embarrassed that an entire class had to be moved due to my injury. Also, what if Chapman physically can’t move the classroom due to each classroom being full? What then?

As well as Chapman does try their best to accomodate students, what about guests of Chapman students and faculty? Several of my peers have commented saying that their guest was not able to see their dorms due to the lack of wheelchair accessibility. Now, this saddens me. I have never lived in the Chapman dorms, nor do I have a loved one in a wheelchair. Regardless, if I lived on the campus dorms and had a family member visit me, who was in a wheelchair, yet could not view where I was spending most of my time, I’d be very upset. Dorm rooms are a students’ sanctuary. It is their home for the time being. So Hey Chapman, let’s say Chapman University was more of a house, rather than a school. How would you feel if your grandma couldn’t get into your house because you didn’t have a wheelchair ramp?

Interview with CU’s Disability Specialist

Jason McAlexander

Jason McAlexander, (M.S., M.A.) is the Disability Specialist at Chapman University. I was fortunate enough to contact him and have him answer a few questions regarding this topic. “I support the University and students in issues related to the Americans with Disability Act.”

Jocelyn: What’s your history with Chapman University?
Jason: I started back in December 2009.

Jocelyn: Are you are disabled, if so, how? (please feel free to ignore any questions in which you feel uncomfortable.)
Jason: I use a wheelchair due to a spinal cord injury in 1995.

Jocelyn: What percentage of Chapman’s population is registered as disabled?
Jason: Approximately 4% of students are formally registered with some kind of disability.

Jocelyn: What do you think of Chapman’s ability to accomodate to wheel chaired students and faculty? Are all buildings accessible, all rooms, etc.
Jason: I cannot comment to the Chapman’s ability before I arrived, but I can see the non-historic buildings are accessible. When I came onboard Chancellor Struppa was interested in my input as the campus grew and any alterations of the historic buildings. Obviously the historic buildings are on the radar of everyone from students/staff with a broken leg to ones who use wheelchairs. It looks like there is no activity on altering these buildings, but there is activity in the design and planning phases. There are several forces that don’t allow this to be done quickly:

1). Historic buildings have to go through several layers of government and community red tape to alter.
2) There are structural issues to overcome – like can the internal framework handle the installation & use of an elevator.
3) Priority of construction activities – we have several capital improvement and expansion projects in line. Sometimes making space for classrooms and faculty will take priority over altering a building.

In the meantime if any students have classes assigned in inaccessible buildings, we relocate that class to an appropriate space. If a student (with or without) a disability who breaks a leg (for example) contacts me I will have the Registrar relocate his/her class ASAP.

The historic buildings have not been forgotten. Chapman actually has plans for their alterations, but they are in line to be started. Unfortunately, it is rarely a perfect world, but I am here to consult if the University or students have an questions or issues.

Jocelyn: What changes do you hope to see at Chapman University?
Jason: I’m always interested in having the non-disabled public be aware of disability issues. So this blog topic is a good idea. I think by doing this you allow the unknown parts of the story to come to the surface so people can know what is going on from Chapman’s perspective. Trust me, we’re on the issue. I live ‘accessibility issues’ everyday in my professional and personal life. Unfortunately the general public sees inaction on the surface, but we are just hindered by bureaucracy on several levels, state/federal regulations, funding, and timing. But it is always helpful for the students to have their voices heard and be a part of Chapman’s physical growth. There is a student group called the Disability Alliance of Chapman (DAC) for this purpose. There was also a student input committee that advised on the Argyros expansion project. I was on that and facilitated some accessibility changes in the plans so there can be full participation by all students. I’m looking forward to that being completed.


Mr. Jason McAlexander can be contacted via email at jmcalex@chapman.edu.