News, Administration

UGBC Senate Discusses Expanding Transportation Options to Improve Upper Campus Accessibility

UGBC’s Senate discussed expanding transportation options to Upper Campus for students with disabilities during its meeting on Tuesday night.

“How many times have you walked up and down campus every day?” Senator Andreas Pantazakos, MCAS ’24, asked the Senate. “It’s like nothing for us, but for other students, it takes them forever, and that’s not fair.”

Pantazakos said he talked about the possibility of creating a bus system to transport students with physical disabilities to Upper Campus—which is currently only accessible by stairs—in a meeting with Transportation and Parking Services.

“[Transportation Manager Gabe Parker] was very hesitant about this initiative because of the massive cost involved,” Pantazakos said. “Like, this will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to run.”

The University had formerly started plans to construct an Upper Campus pavilion, which would aim to make Upper Campus more accessible to students with disabilities. In March, the Council for Students with Disabilities (CSD) said it was informed the project was indefinitely postponed due to its high cost.

In an email to The Heights at the time, Dean of Students Corey Kelly and Vice President for Student Affairs Shawna Cooper Whitehead said the University was still considering the project.

“Given the high cost of construction, the University has to evaluate all of its projects and consider how to move forward,” the email read. “The Upper Pavilion proposal will continue to be evaluated in the upcoming year.”

Now, to create this proposed bus system, there would need to be a “tangible demand,” according to Pantazakos.

“We would need numbers, data, and testimony from students to show that we really need this new Upper Campus bus stop,” he said.

Pantazakos added that he also talked to Transportation and Parking Services about the possibility of expanding Eagle Escort as a means of improving Upper Campus accessibility. 

H Edwards, GLBTQ+ Leadership Council policy coordinator and MCAS ’26, said that having to consistently order Eagle Escorts to navigate campus would be an unfair imposition to students with disabilities.

“Students with disabilities have the right to the same stability as students who use the regular buses do,” Edwards said. 

Previously in the meeting, Katie Garrigan, Intersectionality Committee chair and MCAS ’25, had announced UGBC’s laundry subsidy program for Montserrat students will launch on Oct. 2.

“Because we only have $3,000, we’re not going to be able to give a laundry subsidy to every student in Montserrat,” Garrigan said. “So we’ve decided on 100 students being allocated $30 and it’s on a first come first serve basis.”

In a resolution sponsored by Garrigan last spring, the funds for the program were allotted from the Senate’s budget. The program will be promoted to Montserrat students in the time leading up to its rollout, when a survey will be sent out for students to request laundry subsidies.

“My hope in the long term is that the University would see that if UGBC is committing something like this, they might be able to commit something on their end,” Garrigan said.

September 19, 2023