As a university, Western Kentucky University should strive to make every single building and the campus accessible to students, visitors, faculty, and staff, regardless of whether or not they are bound by law to do so. If the university does not put the needs of it's students first, then they are losing sight of their main purpose.
Megan Allen is a sophomore at WKU studying Theatre. She is an incredible addition to the department, always bringing her very best work and a positive attitude inside and outside the classroom. She currently balances a full course load, including Design I and Costume Technology, and greatly enjoys greeting and ushering visitors who come to see performances.
Unfortunately, the buildings and theatre spaces at WKU limit Megan because she is in a wheelchair. Currently, the only theatre-related building on campus that she is able to fully use is Van Meter Hall. Last year, out of the roughly 30 performances put on by the department, 2 of them were in Van Meter. All of the other performances were in Gordon Wilson Hall or the Ivan Wilson Fine Arts Center. Gordon Wilson Hall is home to the Theatre and Dance department's Lab Theatre, dance studios, many class and rehearsal rooms, faculty offices, and the main department office. The building is three floors, but contains no elevator, which eliminates all access for Megan to the dance studios, class and rehearsal rooms, faculty offices, and the main department office. In order to access the Lab Theatre, the only thing on the first floor of Gordon Wilson Hall, Megan has to circle half of the building to get to the single door without steps in front of it. Even upon entering, the building does not house a single handicap accessible restroom for Megan to use.
In the Ivan Wilson Fine Arts Center, things are just as limiting, if not more so. Thanks to the efforts of some of the Theatre and Dance faculty over the summer, Megan can now access the basement of FAC, where faculty offices, scene shop, green room, and classrooms are located. However, she is still not able to access the stage, any of the seats in the house, or a handicap accessible restroom.
For Megan to be able to completely learn, reach her full potential, and experience all WKU has to offer, the university needs to step up and make the necessary changes. Of course it's going to cost money, but there is nothing more important than WKU helping each student succeed.
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