Letter to the Editor: StFX is Still Inaccessible 


No real progress made towards improving accessibility

StFX is a very inaccessible campus as it is perched upon a hill. Mary Isaac is a passionate woman when it comes to her education. She is very knowledgeable and her professors say that she contributes well to classroom discussion. During her time when she lived on campus she was forced to crawl through the snow to access her accessible dorm room. She had that on video but the former president of StFX did not want that to go out in public, so during a meeting he had her delete the video. Mary Isaac had missed class do to the elevators not working in the building where her classes were; amongst many other challenges that she has faced during her time on campus.

I personally went to talk with the current president of StFX, who sits in an office that is inaccessible on most days. We had a meeting with him and we involved a professor at StfX who is big on social justice issues. We had Mary Isaac present at the meeting as well. Kent MacDonald’s best answer at the meeting was that he was going to make the campus more accessible through building the Mulroney building. Kent MacDonald said that he was going to look into the current issues of accessibility and send an e-mail regarding what recommendations that he would make. This was last year, and we are still waiting on that e-mail.

After looking at what was sent around for public viewing of the Mulroney building, the accessibility is still skeptical to me, because of the many stairs throughout the building. Mind you that last year they built new renovations to the Rankin School of nursing and many of the elevators in that building lead to stairs. We even did a radio show for The FOX in which we had the professor involved and last year’s former Coady Chair. We requested that this injustice of inaccessibility come to a halt, there was already lots of research conducted looking into the inaccessibility on campus. I am sure that lots of people had experienced this problem if they had a broken, or a sprained leg, lack mobility, or are in a wheelchair. Especially, when conquering the ‘Mount Everest’ ramp and stairs in front of the Angus L. MacDonald library, or trying to head across campus to class.

Mary’s wheelchair is stored at the SUB. Mary attempted to go to class at Coady on the icy day of January 30th, 2017. The ‘Mount Everest’ ramp was impassible due to the amount of ice and snow, so she took Notre Dame Avenue. She trekked along this icy and snow covered road with cars trailing behind. By the time she got to the huge inclined road by Lane Hall her chair started to slide and she got turned sideways and nearly flipped over. She had to go back to Bloomfield in defeat because her paths to Coady were inaccessible. She missed Latin-American History, which is one of her favorite classes.

Since the Mulroney building has begun they blocked off the majority of the accessible ways to access Nicholson Tower. The construction company that is in charge of building has constantly blocked off the one and only accessible ramp into the building. Mary Isaac would not be the only person that relies on this ramp to get into the building.

Dr. Maureen Moynah also requires an accessible route into Nicholson Tower to get to her office. Also, due to this construction and the recent weather, the parking lot between Bloomfield (where Mary stores her chair) and Nicholson Tower has deteriorated. Because of this deterioration they blocked off one of the few parking lots available on campus, and in turn this blocked off an accessible route to the ramp.

When Mary had to go to class she called up her professor Linda Darwish saying that she may not make it to class in Nicholson Tower due to the campuses failure to make her routes accessible and because this ramp was blocked off. Linda Darwish did not want to see Mary miss class so she came over to Bloomfield ready to help. She had facilities management use the big snow plow to help move some snow. So when Mary and I headed out with Linda Darwish to get to Nicholson Hall we came to the first obstacle which was six inches of a snow ridge going directly across the path. Linda Darwish attempted to kick the snow away because she had no shovel. I helped push Mary through. As we travelled along the so called cleared sidewalk to Nicholson the snow was beginning to get slushier and heavier, so I had to push her through the snow. Eventually, I could not push anymore and five construction workers came by to help push as Linda Darwish and Robert Zecker looked on in shock, for the amount of struggle it took for Mary to be able to get through the snow.

All the professors that were involved are appalled by the lack of effort by facilities management to clean up an accessible route through to Nicholson Tower and the amount of effort it takes for Mary just to try and get an education. We are going to file a complaint with the Human Rights and Equity advisor at mfogarty@stfx.ca and we would appreciate if you would as well. Also, feel free to write the Human Rights and Equity advisor regarding the lack of parking we have across campus. We are annoyed and we shouldn’t have to put up with this.