As a Student Ambassador for the Admissions Office, I give tours of Concordia’s campus to prospective students. One of the things I’ve noticed while giving tours is how difficult it would be for a handicapped student to attend Concordia. There are elevators and ramps around campus, but it would still be difficult for a handicapped student to navigate the campus with ease. For instance, the hallways in Grose and Bishop-Whipple Hall are not easy to walk through without a wheelchair, so I can’t even imagine being confined to a wheelchair and trying to get to a classroom at the end of the hall.
Concordia College requires students with disabilities to register with disability services and provide proof of their disability for the college. This proof would be by way of filling out a form, signed by the student’s physician and the disability counselor. After the paper work is completed, the student meets with the counselor to make the necessary accommodations for the student. The disabilities that disability services focusses on are learning, psychological, physical/mobility, health impairments, and other cognitive impairments. Every year, the student has to re-register with disability services, verifying once again that they are disabled. If the student’s disability isn’t approved, the student may petition or appeal that decision. There are a lot of hoops to jump through just to prove that a student has a disability, and it seems that it should be easier.
I am friends with someone who is currently going through this process to make her disability recognized. She is working on appealing the decision, and it is extremely stressful for her as she is a freshman. Also, she is not getting any guidance or direction about this whole process. It frustrates me greatly how she is not getting any help, even though she has met with disability services. She is jumping through all the required hoops, and she’s still not getting anywhere.
This is just one example of the difficult process to become a student with a recognized disability. Concordia makes it very hard for students with disabilities to have a “normal” college experience. Looking at our student body, I have not seen one single student who is physically handicapped and confined to a wheelchair. There must be something we can do to make Concordia more accepting of students with disabilities. It is simply unacceptable that we are not more welcoming and accommodating of students who have disabilities.
This article was submitted by Krista Paulson, contributing writer.