Column: Accessibility is a huge, invisible problem at MU

Transportation and accessibility on and around campus is something a lot of us take for granted, but it affects more students than you think.

Madi Baughman is a sophomore journalism and political science major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about political and civil rights issues for The Maneater.

As I’ve been getting to know more and more people around MU, I’ve noticed some issues with transportation that would have normally gone right over my head because they do not impact me. As someone who can drive and lives close to campus, I feel extremely fortunate. However, a lot of students aren’t as fortunate. Many students, especially freshmen and out-of-state students, don’t have cars on campus, which makes it hard for them to get around Columbia without paying for transportation. This is something that they might not be able to afford due to the already tight budget that often comes with college life.

Basing an entire class structure and curriculum around going places that may not always be accessible by public transportation is a major issue. One example of a class like this is Journalism 2150, which deals with multimedia journalism. The class is structured around different multimedia projects for students to complete, and in order to avoid repeating the same project, student almost always have to go off campus at least once to cover a story. While this would be fine with ample time to plan, the class moves very fast, and often students are left without time to find reliable transportation.

To put this into perspective, my roommate and I live off campus. As I said before, I drive, but he doesn’t — which isn’t a problem most days, because there is a shuttle that runs from our apartment complex to campus.

However, especially in the School of Journalism, transportation is key for a lot of classes. When I’m not able to take him places because of the times I work, he often has to resort to pursuing on-campus stories, which could negatively affect his grade just because of how limited that makes his range of options.

Then you can add in the fact that weather in Missouri can be hard to predict and even harder to navigate sometimes, even for the most experienced drivers. With all of this, you’ve got a big spectrum of factors that can make it really hard for people who live off campus to access their classes.

This column doesn’t even begin to get into the challenges that people with disabilities face. My roommate and I are both able-bodied, but for people with disabilities, this range of accessible options just shrinks. Many places that they may have to go may be less accessible than areas on campus. As much as I love MU and the J-School for all the opportunities that they offer, the classes weren’t really designed with accessibility in mind.

Offering more class options, such as more online classes, changing class structures so they don’t rely as heavily on going places with so little time to plan transportation, and working to provide more forms of transportation are only three ways to help that would go so far for students. MU needs to work on making their classes and campus, as a whole, more accessible to everyone, not just students who live on campus or close to campus.

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