Opinion: CSUB on wheels

Jacob Torres, Features Writer

A sign next to the stairs under the Fine Arts Building that points to a ramp for those who cannot take the stairs. Photo by Ranara Lim / The Runner

California State University, Bakersfield is home to a very diverse student body. There are many different people of all races, creeds, religions and walks of life.

One group of people that sticks out to me the most are disabled students. Now, being a disabled student myself, one issue that people in my situation have to go through is the issue of accessibility.

Being disabled is already a very inconvenient situation in general. Given my physical situation, I will do pretty much anything and everything I have to in order to make life even the slightest bit easier. This includes navigating college.

I have no doubt that other people in my situation will also agree with that. Based on my personal experiences, CSUB seems to seriously lack in certain areas, specifically when it comes to accommodations for disabled students, which is surprising given the university’s stature.

I personally believe it’s a little strange, I expect every university to have a shuttle service and wide enough doorways. I believe places like colleges should be as accessible as humanly possible.

Don’t get me wrong, CSUB does accommodate in a lot of areas, some just fall short.

When I spoke with Fellow disabled CSUB student, Alexander Knaack, he said, “Bakersfield College has a tram service for disabled people to get around whereas CSUB does not.”

Knaack also shared, “there’s no advocacy in the government for people like us, and there’s not enough being done.”

Knaack is also a wheelchair user like myself.

However, there is hope that this problem will eventually change.

Disability services director Janice Clauson said, “I understand that it’s hard for disabled people to get around.”

One example of this is the implementation of automatic doors. I personally believe that every door in every area of every university should be automatic. When brought up Clauson said, “Automatic doors are not required by the ADA in all areas of the school; however, I’m very proud that we exceed the law for disabled people as far as handicapped parking spots go.”

Clauson also said the UPD recently hired somebody to oversee a shuttle service at CSUB, so that is something that could possibly happen. However, it is still just a possibility.

Public information officer, Jennifer Self, wrote in an email that “The shuttle service is still in the planning stages. As of now, the UPD does not have the room to store the vehicles needed to operate the shuttle, so the program has not been implemented yet.”

No further information is known at this time.

I personally believe this could be good for people like myself. From my personal experience, disabled people are a minority that tend to get overlooked, ignored and dismissed. If something like this were to happen, it would not only make life with a disability all that much easier, but it would make me feel like I’ve made a difference in some way.

As a disabled person, all I’ve ever wanted was a sense of freedom and independence. If the proposed shuttle service could become a reality for not only myself but for other people in my situation, it would give me, as well as others, more of that sense of freedom.

I’ve been a wheelchair user my entire life, and I’ve never let it get in the way of my happiness or my ability to do things. One of those things in particular was to go to college and pursue my journalism career.

My mother once told me, “Son, the only thing in life that you’ll never be able to do is run track.”

The older I get and the harder I work, I realize she’s right. All I have to do to achieve my dreams is lace up my “chucks,” grab my baseball hat and roll hard until the wheels fall off.

The outside of the Runner Express, which shows no clear signs of accessibility for people who are disabled. Photo by Ranara Lim / The Runner