Earlier this month, the Disability Acceptance Committee — a committee through the Campus Y student organization Best Buddies — and another organization called Tar Heels at the Table published a petition calling on UNC and Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz to create a permanent ramp at the Old Well.
The lack of a ramp at the Old Well has been an issue that's affected students for generations at UNC, said Disability Acceptance Committee Executive Committee Leader of Advocacy & Equity Caroline Pharr.
“What many organizations of us are fighting for here on campus, who are disability-adjacent or are in the disability community, is that a temporary ramp is not the solution,” Pharr said. “It's an accommodation to a symptom. And until we create a permanent structure that allows permanent access, we aren't addressing the underlying barriers that exist here at UNC for a person with disabilities.”
Creation of the petition
Pharr said her committee addresses issues that impact people with disabilities on campus. She said she spearheaded the creation of the petition.
“We've got to start at the heart of UNC and that's the Old Well,” Pharr said. “It’s a symbol of our University, it's where a lot of our traditions are based out of and, without a ramp at the Old Well, we're barring part of our population from being able to engage in the UNC traditions.”
Pharr added that her committee worked collaboratively to write a letter addressed to Guskiewicz and the University about the concerns on campus accessibility, specifically at the Old Well. The text in the petition is the same as that of the committee's letter.
This letter was passed around to other committees in Disability Acceptance Committee to make sure it was reflective of the advocacy and equity committee’s goal and that of the Disability Acceptance Committee organization, Pharr said.
Finally, the letter got sent to Tar Heels at the Table to get its input, she said. The organization serves as an advisory board to Chancellor Guskiewicz and other senior administrators on issues of accessibility, disability and inclusion.