Students urge UGA arch be made more accessible

Students urge UGA arch be made more accessible

March 8th, 2014 by Associated Press in Local Regional News

Several University of Georgia students request that the UGA Arch be made more accessible for students and alumni with disabilities.

Photo by Erin O. Smith /Times Free Press.

ATHENS, Ga. - Some University of Georgia students are urging administrators to make the school's signature arch accessible to everyone so they can participate in campus traditions.

The Athens Banner-Herald reported that people with limited mobility disabilities can use a ramp to get to the UGA Arch.

But Khaled Alsafadi, who will graduate this year, wants to be able to go through the arch as other students do as part of the school's graduation tradition.

Alsafadi uses a wheelchair to get around. He can get to the arch, but not go through it because of its steep steps leading down from the UGA campus to a sidewalk beside Broad Street.

"I will have earned the rite of passage in 2015 when I graduate," said Carden Wyckoff, a disabled student who joined others to make a Facebook page to raise awareness of the issue. "I should not be prevented from partaking in one of the traditions here at the university." Wyckoff added that improving the arch's accessibility also could help older alumni and visitors who may have trouble dealing with the stairs.

UGA Vice President for Student Affairs Victor Wilson told students that the university is considering putting a temporary ramp in place on the other side of the arch during special occasions, but students argue that the university should be looking to more permanent solutions.

UGA spokesman Tom Jackson said school officials are listening to the concerns and reviewing all options.

"The arch is very symbolic, and this would symbolize the university's efforts to include the whole UGA family," Alsafadi said. "People with wheelchairs, people with walkers, people with canes, we should all have equal access to it."

Thousands already have signed paper and online petitions in support of improving the arch's accessibility.