By Rachel Royster | Staff Writer
Over winter break, the Baylor Office of Access and Learning Accommodation announced it is disbanding the disability shuttle service and replacing it with an optional parking permit that eligible students must apply for.
This shuttle service was available to students with physical disabilities to aid them in getting to where they need to be on campus on time. Now, those students must apply for a parking permit at an extra cost.
“The price of the parking permit for the spring semester is $225,” Director of OALA Dae Vasek said in an email announcing the change. “To help with the transition, Parking Services has decided to offer the spring semester permit for the price of $125 (for the students affected by the Disability Shuttle suspension only). With this permit, the students will be able to park in faculty and staff, visitor, or student spaces.”
Many students have shared their frustrations with this decision, given that it creates another obstacle for them to face on top of their current struggles.
“Having the disability shuttle being cancelled has put an increased financial burden on me and my family,” Houston freshman Lily Short said. “I now have to drive to class instead of being able to use the shuttle that was already included in my tuition.”
Driving themselves to class does not provide the same ease of access, though. Many parking lots and garages are further from their classes than where the shuttle service would have dropped them off.
“Driving to class is an inconvenience because while it gets me to class quickly, it is inconvenient since the parking garages are a bit far of a walk,” Short said. “Driving isn’t a problem. Walking is the biggest problem, since my foot is what is injured.”
Other students point out the imperfections of the parking permit as a replacement service.
“I just think it’s inconvenient and the disbanding of it is dismissing a lot of disabilities, which makes it more difficult for people to get to class,” Tulsa, Okla., freshman Elise Jones said. “I think it’s a serious neglect of people who relied on that service.”
For students who can’t drive, the parking permit isn’t even a viable option.
“Like for me, I have to get surgery on my left leg, and I drive a manual car, meaning I need both feet to drive it. If it was my right leg, I couldn’t even drive a normal car,” Jones said. “I can’t even exercise the use of the parking pass if I wanted to.”
Although OALA offered the students affected with the “consideration of tardies” accommodation “when appropriate,” the lack of a shuttle service strips these students of assistance in getting to classes on time painlessly.
In the email sent out, Vasek stated “OALA does realize this may be an inconvenience and is prepared to assist in any way possible. We will be providing you with two local medical supply resources if you would like to purchase or rent an electric scooter or other equipment. OALA is also prepared to provide financial assistance where needed.”
An effort was made to reach out to OALA for comment, though they did not respond to the request for an interview.