Student Perspective on the Lack of Accessibility on Campus

It’s a hot, sunny day on Point Loma Nazarene University’s campus. You’re late for class. You’re sweating and trekking up the hill from your dorm. So many stairs. Such steep hills. Now add crutches or a knee walker and you find yourself in the shoes of Isabella Purdy, a sophomore environmental studies major. 

Purdy recently broke her ankle on a class hike and has been placed in a boot and knee walker. She has been finding it difficult to navigate PLNU’s campus with this injury. 

PLNU’s Education Access Center (EAC), has helped accommodate Purdy’s needs. This is one of the first times that the EAC has used remote learning and zoom classes for an injury, according to Purdy. 

In an email interview with The Point, Purdy shared some of her experiences navigating classes, meals, and chapels with her injury. 

1.What’s it like having a broken ankle on campus? Explain your experiences. 

It’s been really hard. The campus isn’t very injury friendly and it was a nightmare at first trying to figure out how to navigate my classes. When I first got hurt, I was also in a tremendous deal of pain, which was very hard to work through. However, the EAC really helped me out and I was able to have a plan in place so I could heal. I wasn’t allowed to put any weight on my left ankle for a whole month. I had to rethink how I functioned. I utilized my Zoom classes and alternate assignments along with virtual chapel so I could keep off my bad ankle and heal. I also went home for a week because I was really struggling in my dorm room.

2. What have been the biggest issues about being injured on campus? 

The biggest issues in the beginning involved me attempting to use crutches to go to class. It was still very wet outside from the rain one morning and I came really close to falling. I struggled to carry around my materials for class. My homework amount was very intense around the time I got injured, so I wasn’t really giving myself much of a break to heal. Even when I came home, I was glued to my computer the whole time and typing for assignments.

3. How has your injury complicated or changed your learning experience on campus? 

It was frustrating at first because not all my professors check their emails. The EAC sent them out an email letting them know that I needed to Zoom or do alternate assignments and getting no response was very frustrating. This led to me missing out on materials and class time. I missed being in person a lot, but knew in my injured state I couldn’t risk my health and be in person. I also had to miss out on events and a trip that my class had planned out because I physically couldn’t get myself there and participate without injuring myself further. 

4. What has been your experience getting healthcare from the Wellness Center? 

My experience with the Wellness Center has been great! Dr. Hardison, the doctor at the Wellness Center, has done a great job taking care of me. The staff and students at the Wellness Center have always been very helpful and friendly towards me. I had to get my x-rays done off campus, because the Wellness Center doesn’t have an x-ray machine. Dr. Hardison went over the images with me back on campus and has helped me heal. 

5. Have professors and staff on campus been helpful and understanding with your injury? 

Some of my professors have been helpful and understanding, which is great. However, some of them could’ve done more to help me out with my injury. Not all of my professors were understanding and didn’t help to readjust my workload at all. With my broken ankle, night pain was my worst enemy for a couple weeks. I struggled to concentrate and stay in a school mindset with the pain I was feeling. I even was forgotten from one of my classes, despite the class size being very small. It was great when my helpful professors would check up on me and help me prepare for my Zoom classes. I really appreciate Professor Valiente-Neighbours for recommending the EAC to me for my broken ankle. Without her guidance, I wouldn’t have gotten the care I needed. Professor Kirby also suffered a similar injury her sophomore year while being here at PLNU, and I appreciate her support during my injury. She’s been very kind and understanding. The cafeteria staff asked me what happened and offered help if I needed it. The cleaning staff of New Nease has also been very kind to me and have helped me open doors.

6. What advice would you give to students who are experiencing or could experience a similar scenario as your own? 

Talk to the EAC! Being on campus while injured is a struggle. Don’t suffer alone, and reach out for help. Utilize the Wellness Center for your injury and rely on those around you. My friends have been a huge help during my injury, and I am very grateful to them, and also very grateful for my RA, Megan Lange. Realize that this is a hard situation for you and you deserve care and genuine support. Also, try to get care ASAP! I was walking on my broken ankle thinking I sprained it for a couple of days. I have a very high pain tolerance, but even with that, always listen to your body. Invest in a scooter instead of struggling with crutches.

7. What do you wish was different about PLNU’s campus to make it more accessible to those who are injured or disabled?

I just wish that there were more ramps and an easier way to get to Caf Lane. The hill that goes up to Caf Lane from New Nease is very steep, and even now with the doctor’s approval to put weight on my foot, I’m still not ready to try and scale it. Also, when I couldn’t put weight on my foot, going to chapel in person was out of the question. People have bumped into me, not knowing that it hurt my broken ankle. Awareness for those who are injured and people with disabilities would be a good step in the right direction. I also would make sure that the elevators are always operational and that the handicapped automatic door openers are always working, because there are people who need to use them.

To learn more information about resources on campus or get help, contact:
Wellness Center: (619) 849-2574
EAC: (619) 849-2533eac@abbey-wicks

Written By: Claire Downey