Accessibility on campus has been a topic of concern for New Brunswick universities.
Both the UNB Student Union and the Mount Allison University Student Union chose accessibility on campus as a topic they would like to see addressed at upcoming consultations with the New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA).
“At each of our member campuses we’ll do consultations on a particular topic. We invited our members, each of the student unions, to choose which topic they wanted to talk about. The UNBSU wanted to talk about accessibility — that was an area that their council expressed a lot of interest in,” said Pat Joyce, executive director of the NBSA.
Nicole Saulnier, VP external of the UNBSU, said that accessibility was the chosen topic in part because of this year’s provincial election.
“We believe [accessibility] is a timely issue in the province. The new government is really focusing on infrastructure and the workforce in their new plans. It was also a topic that we passed through council,” said Saulnier.
“We’re starting to draft our pre-budget submission and one of the areas that we’d like to talk about is campus accessibility and infrastructure. We wanted to get feedback from students directly as we put together that submission,” said Joyce.
“[We want to] start getting student feedback so that we can know what student priorities are.”
Jeremy Murray, the UNBSU accessibility representative, wants to raise awareness at the impending consultation about one of the biggest struggles for those with physical accessibility needs on campus: snow.
“My big push this year has been the winter because when it snows it can be a bit of a challenge to get around. There are things that can be done to lessen the amount of stress that winter creates,” said Murray.
One of Murray’s suggestions is that budgeting out a little more money for more extensive snow plowing can go a long way for those with accessibility needs.
Murray has attended several meetings about the needs of students and is pleased with the progress that’s being made on campus.
“The executive has been really open to try and make things more accessible. I’m starting to see more public awareness about things — that’s good because the more people who notice it, the bigger the voice we have,” he said.
Murray also said that the addition of gender-neutral washrooms to campus is a accommodating to not only gender minorities, but also to those with accessibility needs.
“[The] big thing is trying to create as inclusive a campus as possible, whether that’s through accessibility or through just accepting people for who they are,” Murray said.