Funding available to improve access for disabled

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Unless you have a disability, you may not realize how inaccessible this campus can be. Whether it's going from class to class, getting into buildings and rooms, or simply trying to learn, people with a variety of disabilities can have trouble doing all of these things. That's why in the March 1995 referendum students passed the Access Fee. This fee, managed by the Accessibility Levy Committee, funds initiatives to remove physical and educational barriers for disabled students. Full-time students contribute $1 toward this levy each semester, and part-time students contribute $0.50.

Every year the Accessibility Levy Committee receives applications from various people around campus and meets to review the applications to determine how the levy should be allocated. The applications we receive should be funding requests from students. For example, purchasing large anatomy models for a visually impaired student. Unfortunately, many of our applications come from university departments, not students.

The Students' Union feels that many requests from departments are for things that should already be included in tuition fees, such as ramps and electronic doors, and that students should not be paying additional fees to go towards such projects. With tuition increasing every year, it is reasonable to expect that some of our money should be focused on making campus more accessible. In fact, the university is legally required to make all of their buildings accessible to students. This is why the Students' Union feels a student levy should not be used to do something the university is legally obligated to do.

In the past we have received very few applications, especially from students, and it seems that the trend may continue this year. That's why we are asking you, the students, if you have any ideas of where such funding should go. Let's send the university a message that it's time for them to contribute their part in making campus accessible to all students. Any application for funding that aids a disabled student in learning will be considered, so please apply. Every student pays this levy, so it would be great if we could put it to good use. The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2002. Applications are available at the Students' Union office. If you have any questions feel free to contact me at rgwhite@ucalgary.ca.