Infrastructure issues causing campus pains

As National College Decision Day approaches, the Lawrence campus has been welcoming prospective students in search of their future university. Though presentation is a point of pride for most college campuses, it seems to be a lower priority for Lawrence as of late. Potential Lawrentians are greeted by sidewalks with large, hazardous cracks and crumbling brick. As returning students, of course, we understand that this wear can be attributed to harsh winter conditions and friction from campus safety vehicles. We also know that renovations are done every year. Visitors do not see this process, however, and only see what looks like years of damage. 

It could therefore be said that the sidewalks are not equipped to withstand the weight of vehicles or extreme temperatures. Lawrence should invest in sidewalks that will be both aesthetically pleasing and functional for more than one season. This would attract prospective students without compromising the duties of campus safety. It would also be safer for disabled or injured students—the dilapidated sidewalks have the potential to be hazardous for students like these.

This points to a larger issue: the inaccessibility of Lawrence’s infrastructure to disabled and injured students. At this point, all academic buildings are up to code, but residence halls have a long way to go. The lack of elevators in buildings like Trever and Ormsby are especially inconvenient to injured athletes. An athlete living on the third floor of Trever, for instance, might have to move to a different dorm in the event of a mobility-limiting injury. Lawrence even has to pay annual government premiums as a result of these buildings’ lack of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

In addition to updating residence halls so they can comply with these laws, Lawrence needs to prioritize repairs and updates to facilities meant to benefit disabled students. Broken elevators, for instance, should be repaired immediately, rather than left in disrepair for an extended period of time. Alexander Gym, meanwhile, could use an update—according to senior Madeline Maclean, “Alex has one elevator in the back that barely fits a wheelchair.” For a campus with such an emphasis on inclusivity, our buildings’ lack of compensation for the disabled is especially jarring.

Campus infrastructure must be improved in terms of aesthetics and inclusivity, but there are also things students can do to improve campus infrastructure. Students can place trash in proper bins instead of littering, close windows during the winter to prevent burst pipes, and respect communal property. We cannot expect a nice campus without also treating the campus nicely. Yes, Lawrence needs some repair, but we should also hold ourselves to a higher standard and respect the money and time that has been put into our campus. At the same time, the effort to create a welcoming community is mutual. If students are to feel that caring for our campus is meaningful, we must not feel that our efforts will be undone by inadequate maintenance, or that the administration is unconcerned with being welcoming to new students.