Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Students participate in moderated wheelchair experience

Maleigh Crespo
Psychology freshman and member of Disabled Students Assembly KC Crawford leads design senior Ace McConnell in the wheelchair obstacle course on April 11, 2024. The course was created to allow the Loyola community to experience what navigating life in a wheelchair is like.

For freshman Josephine Faulk, who primarily navigates using a wheelchair, it can be difficult to get to where she needs to go due to inaccessible landscapes and infrastructure.

Faulk said navigating Loyola’s campus isn’t as bad as navigating the city, but it has its challenges, including having to travel around the entire residential quad when going from her dorm in Biever Hall to enter the Danna Center because of the steps that obstruct the linear path.

To help the Loyola community understand these challenges, the Student Government Association’s disability and accessibility committee hosted a moderated wheelchair experience on April 11 in the Palm Court, as Disabled Students Assembly president and SGA senator at large Kaley Delker said it’s one of the least accessible areas of campus.

“[The organization] planned this event to teach students that not all people in wheelchairs are paralyzed,” Delker said.

Delker added that wheelchairs do not mean the end of someone’s life, and in most cases, even though they are sometimes hard to maneuver, they provide freedom for those who use them.

“I use a wheelchair a lot of the times. Most people with physical disabilities deal with some level of inaccessibility,” Faulk said. “So it’s really about trying to show people the sheer inaccessibility of the world around us.”

Environmental studies freshman Coco Zehm tries her hand at maneuvering in a wheelchair on April 11, 2024. (Maleigh Crespo)

For environmental studies freshman Coco Zehm, the experience was “eye-opening.”

“Projects and events like this help increase student empathy toward one another, which is essential,” she said.

Zehm said using the wheelchair made her arms hurt, but she said it allowed her to gain empathy and a greater understanding of those who are differently-abled.

Delker recalled feedback from participants with statements from, ‘Wow, that hill is so hard’ to ‘My wheel got caught on the bricks’ when speaking about their experience navigating the Palm Court using a wheelchair.

“For students who have to take this path on a daily basis, these challenges are faced daily,” Delker said.

In addition to students, University President Xavier Cole made an appearance and tried his hand at traversing the campus using a wheelchair.

Delker said it was great to see a top-level administrator, especially the president, doing the obstacle course and understanding how difficult Loyola’s campus can be for disabled students.

Faulk said, “A lot of people were telling us, ‘Wow, that was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,’ but [they] haven’t even seen the worst of it because the sidewalks on campus are generally good, but if you go into broader New Orleans, it’s like mountain climbing.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Maleigh Crespo
Maleigh Crespo, Editor in Chief
Maleigh Crespo serves as the Maroon's Editor in Chief. Maleigh previously served as the Maroon's  Managing Editor for Print, Design Chief, Equity and Inclusion officer, and Op/Ed editor. When she’s not writing, she can be found listening to Taylor Swift on repeat, online shopping, or feeding the squirrels in Audubon.

Comments (0)

All The Maroon Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *