Though 2023 brought accessibility improvements on campus, UNC students continue to advocate for more inclusive spaces for community members with disabilities at UNC.
In February, students sat on the steps of South Building in protest of a student wheelchair user who was stuck in their residence hall when the elevator broke. They protested for 32 hours straight, the same amount of time they were trapped in Koury Residence Hall. Although, UNC senior Sarah Ferguson said, no change directly resulted from this event, it was the catalyst for students with disabilities to be able to voice their concerns to University administration.
“We had a strong foot in the door to finally get meetings,” Ferguson said.
In July, the UNC Board of Trustees approved the modernization of elevators in Carroll Hall, Dey Hall, Morrison Residence Hall, Brinkhous-Bullitt Building and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, UNC Media Relations said.
Senior Mary Frances Lutz said a notable step toward accessibility was the University's summer renovation of a ramp connected to the Old Well.
She said the renovations were also important for students with “invisible disabilities” too.
“It helps a lot of students,” she said. “[Students] that aren’t wheelchair users that can’t do those three stairs up to the Old Well.”
Ferguson said she sees the Old Well renovations as a “wonderful” addition, but she doesn’t feel that it was the best accessibility improvement for the University to prioritize. To her, it seems to be more for “publicity” than functionality.
“People can see ramps, but they can't see accessible restrooms,” she said. “The University put higher priority on something that's visible, versus something that is actually functional.”