Student Government and Disability Access
April 1, 2010 Leave a comment
I’m excited to say that Colton Jessie and Kendrick Bryan have won the Student Government Association election for President and Executive Vice-President respectively, at WKU. Kendrick was running for re-election, and Colton was running for his first term. What has me so excited about this is that one of the issues that Colton ran on was increasing disability access on campus (not to mention he supports domestic partnership benefits for WKU employees, woot!). Like I pointed out in this post, Western’s campus is pretty inaccessible, because of its location on a huge hill, and because many buildings weren’t constructed with the differently-abled in mind.
Western’s student government boasts of being the most active in the state—but it has a lot of improving to do. 1,209 votes were cast in this election, and considering we have many, many more students than this (about 18,000 when you take our satellite campuses into consideration), that’s not a lot. Student government has a similar reputation as politics and government in general—that it’s a useless body, with little accomplishment, and its members involved solely for personal interest. SGA’s budget is significant—over $100k. Most of it goes to student organizations on campus, to fund whatever it is those organizations are doing, with a limit of $500 each. But there’s a lot of money that can be spent however the student Senate wants—including adding ramps, curb cuts, or whatever.
I suspect, however, that most of their effort in regards to this issue will be meeting with university officials, and passing resolutions. I was in SGA for two years, and served in several different positions, and SGA has a lot of influence. Just bringing this issue up with administrators can have a huge impact. SGA can also work with University Senate—the faculty’s version of SGA—to bring up issues and get things done. But of course speaking with officials shouldn’t be the only things done–talking to differently abled students about their experiences on campus, bringing awareness to this issue, and lobbying Frankfort for more aid should also be priorities.
I spoke with Colton during the election, after he came to speak at the Student Identity Outreach meeting on campus, and he’s very eager to work on this issue. We’re supposed to meet soon, to get the ball rolling. Updates will be posted as soon as any developments occur.