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C-Haus and accessibility for students to attend campus events

On February 19, Beloit College’s Office of Academic Diversity and Inclusiveness launched a week long campaign, #SunkenPlace, tackling the issue of Racism and White Supremacy, welcoming several professors and students as speakers.  While some events took place in Java Joint, most took place in C-Haus.

For those who are unfamiliar with C-Haus, it is the on-campus bar. If you have attended prospective students weekend, or if you have hosted a prospective student, you most likely have ended up at C-Haus. On the ground floor of C-Haus, Admissions handed out free quarters to play pool and to socialize with other prospective students. After making your way down poorly lit stairs to the basement, Admissions distributed free root beer and popcorn. The basement offers a stage where a mix of student bands and outside performers play on the weekends. This stage is set up for other events such as occasional lectures, or even spoken word events. Interestingly, the Office of Academic Diversity and Inclusiveness decided to host most of the #SunkenPlace teach-ins in C-Haus.

Students who are physically unable to enter C-Haus and navigate C-Haus no longer had an opportunity to attend any of the #SunkenPlace events. C-Haus does not have an elevator, and that made it so only students who are able-bodied could attend the events.  The #Sunkenplace staff was very thoughtful and provided two alternatives to see the event. The #Sunkenplace events were video recorded and were then shown in Morse-Ingersoll Hall, room 209, Tuesday, February 20 and Thursday, February 22. Students were given the option to livestream all of the #Sunkenplace events that occured in C-house from the comfort of their own homes.

The problems with the two alternative events that are there was no chance to give feedback in front of a live audience. Giving responses to live events is essential for good discussions that confront sensitive matters. The comments that people bring to these events allow others to see things in a new perspective, and those not able to be there didn’t have a chance to voice their own opinions in person.

Accessibility is not just a C-Haus problem, it’s a campus problem. For example, if a student is not able to climb stairs, they can request a special room in Aldrich to live due to it being the only dorm that offers an elevator. Maurer link also offers a elevator, but only in the common area to the tunnels. There is also an elevator in the basement of Chapin that leads to the entrance of commons dining hall. From there one must use the ramp to access Commons. Unfortunately, the elevator stops at the ground floor and is not accessible to dorms above.

A step forward would be to add an elevator in C-Haus so that those with disabilities can attend events when C-Haus is open. Whether it be to listen to their favorite DJ, perform in a student band or recite some poetry, the opportunities are endless if the appropriate measures are taken.

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