It’s Winter, and back to the grind. As enjoyable as the holiday break hopefully was for every Queen’s student—a time to relax and catch up with friends and family—getting back into the swing of things on campus could be difficult for anybody.
And to be honest, the weather doesn’t do us any favours. Having to deal with the cold inside the JDUC as well as outside is about as bad as it gets.
That is, unless you’re one of many students who have accessibility needs. Then just getting around campus at any time of year can be difficult. When the one (and only) access ramp to the JDUC is blocked by ice and slush in winter, accessing the facilities and services that you as a student rely on can be nearly impossible.
As you may have already started to see around campus, a referendum campaign is underway on redeveloping the JDUC. In preparation for this, we have been conducting various forms of consultation with students about their needs and wants from a new building.
Across every poll we conduct, focus group we hold, and independent submission we receive from a student, we continue to hear one consistent opinion: Make the JDUC accessible!
Students nearly unanimously agree that accessibility should be at the heart of the JDUC Project’s objectives, and it has been every single step of the way.
Currently, the JDUC only has one access ramp and no barrier-free travel through the building. The elevators in the building, while meeting the most basic regulatory requirements, are old and outdated, out-of-the-way, and often too small for students with wheel-chairs or accessibility scooters. And so many important spaces are not physically accessible at all.
None of this is okay in 2019. But we have a choice to make.
We can choose to vote for a New JDUC proposal that has barrier-free access for everyone. A New JDUC will feature at-grade entrances from every direction and will triple the number of elevators serving both the new and historic sections of the building.
There is a social dimension to accessibility as well. Some students, like me, prefer to use gender neutral bathrooms whenever possible. As a transgender woman, I am pleased to work in a building that has a few non-gendered washrooms already, and we are absolutely committed to having more of these spaces in the New JDUC.
This project will finally ensure we have a student life building that works for all students on campus. A building that is fully accessible, for everybody.
By Chloe Draeger
Managing Director of the Student Life Centre