Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Thursday, August 18, 2022 — Houston, TX

​Misplaced burden: Administration, not affected students, should take proactive role in increasing accessibility


By Christina Tan     2/27/18 11:55pm

A few weeks ago, my friend hurt her foot pretty badly. As a result, she needed to borrow an electric scooter. What should have been a relatively quick and painless process turned out to be a 45-minute ordeal, as she was forced to limp from her room to the bus stop and arrive at the Allen Center, only to discover she had to pay $200 (in cash!) on a security deposit just to get to class on time.

There are multiple issues with this situation: First, that injured students have to move themselves across campus in order to get an electric scooter seems counterintuitive. Second, the assumption that any student at Rice has $200 lying around for an unexpected security deposit is highly unrealistic. If we are worried that students can’t pay $10 for a Beer Bike shirt, why aren’t we also considering issues like these?

This series of hidden struggles is symptomatic of the way the Rice administration addresses accessibility as a whole. Rather than proactively considering options for increasing general accessibility, Rice often requires students to make the first move. While non-disabled students hardly notice when automatic doors stop working, disabled students are forced to wait until someone can assist them. If students need money to participate in social activities, they are forced to reach out to their magisters and ask and justify their need. The only way for students with anxiety to schedule an appointment with the Wellbeing and Counseling Center is to call. When elevators break, it’s up to students to report and follow up just for the sake of getting to their rooms.

Never mind trying to access Hanszen College, any of Sid Richardson College’s rooms, Lovett Hall, the Mechanical Engineering Building, half of Herzstein Hall and more. That’s simply not possible.

The onus is on the administration to take initiative and help their students. Administrators love to throw around the word “accessibility” without actually increasing it. Emotional effort aside, we aren’t asking for anything fancy here — simply the ability to learn with as little personal hindrance as possible. Temporary ramps could be installed in buildings too old for elevators. Popular classes could be relocated to more accessible buildings. We could have a more readily available and transparent way to report building problems and help our peers who need it the most. Magisters could reach out to students before popular social events and offer subsidization in advance. The Wellbeing Center could allow students to book appointments online. And lastly, we could put those golf carts to good use and drive injured students to get the mobility they need. Instead of demanding a $200 security deposit upfront for an electric scooter, we could fine students through Esther for lost scooters.

These obstacles affect students at Rice every day. Rather than wait for the Sallyport to spontaneously grow a functioning elevator, the administration should begin to actually champion accessibility — in all of its shapes and forms.

More from The Rice Thresher

OPINION 5/12/22 4:05pm
The Wellbeing Center should be transparent about its true confidentiality policies

Before you attend a counseling session at the Rice counseling center, you will be told that “the RCC maintains strict standards regarding privacy.” You will find statements from the university that your mental health record will not be shared with anyone outside of extreme situations of imminent harm, and only then that your information will be shared with only the necessary officials. This sounds great, except that these assurances bear no teeth whatsoever — no enforcement agency ensures that Rice follows its public confidentiality promises, and there are no penalties for Rice if they break them. The Wellbeing and Counseling Centers should more directly communicate the limits of their confidentiality policies when compared to unaffiliated counseling centers, and students in sensitive situations should take the necessary precautions to protect their information.

OPINION 4/19/22 11:11pm
We’re in student media to learn

This week marks the last issue of the Thresher for the year, and for the seniors like myself, our last issue ever. I have been a part of the Thresher since freshman year. And it would not be an exaggeration to say it has defined my Rice experience. As someone pursuing a career in journalism after graduation, there has been no better place to learn than at this paper.

OPINION 4/19/22 11:02pm
Philanthropy doesn’t excuse slavery

In January, the Rice Board of Trustees announced plans to move the Founder’s memorial to another area of the academic quad as part of a whole redesign, adding additional context of his “entanglement” with slavery. This comes despite continual calls from the student body to not have the enslaver displayed in the quad regardless of the context provided. It would be just for these calls to action and the majority of the Task Force Committee who voted to not keep it there that the Board of Trustees decide to not keep the memorial prominently displayed in the quad at all.


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.