Disability services limit students

by Stephanie Saccente

Thinkstock
Thinkstock

In a typical week, 31,500 students walk across the San Diego State campus to attend classes at the undergraduate level. These students vary in race, gender and religious beliefs, but also in other ways often overlooked.

Angela Van Ostran is in the minority of students not because of her personal views or native background, but rather because she uses a wheelchair to travel around campus.

Van Ostran said the school’s campus is not designed for those with disabilities, which creates an unsafe atmosphere for disabled students and faculty who must use wheelchairs at SDSU. This was brought to Van Ostran’s attention when she toured the campus for the first time. Because of the many hills and levels, she was forced to miss part of the tour.

Now a junior, Van Ostran said she continues to face difficulties because of her disability that are not being addressed. Recently, Van Ostran says she experienced a problem that has inhibited her ability to attend a class for the second time. In order to attend a statistics class held in Storm Hall, Van Ostran must use an unreliable elevator, and although she has reported the problem, there has not been a change.

“The elevator is nearly pitch-black, dirty, disgusting and traps me inside on a regular basis. There’s usually one flickering light to guide a passenger to the buttons to go up or down,” Van Ostran said. “There isn’t even a sign stating the elevator is out of service. It shouldn’t be like this anywhere, much less here.”

She said she tried to contact SDSU Physical Plant about the elevator on multiple occasions, but nothing has been done. According to Van Ostran, the Physical Plant’s attitude is that it will “fix it when it can.”

She said she was even forced to drop the class during an earlier semester because she was not able to get to the room where the class was held. Unfortunately, the class is required and she is now haunted by the same predicament of having serious problems attending because of the route she must take.

“This is the only building the class can be held in,” Van Ostran said. “All of the elevators need to be evaluated.”

At this time, there are 938 self-identified students with disabilities, not accounting for students who have invisible disabilities. Derrick Dudley, a junior at SDSU who is among the 938 students, said he also feels strongly about a more accessible campus for students with disabilities.

“There is no real representation on campus. We are a culture, we deserve a real voice,” Dudley said.