With the end of my first year at The University of Akron almost in sight, I have been taking the time to look back at all the adventures I’ve been on, the friends I have made and the changes within myself as a full-time college student.
As a college student who is physically disabled, I have been able to do so many more things on campus than ever before growing up. Bowling between my classes was an option when the weather wouldn’t let up, or catching Pokémon near the Student Union while heading to my next class.
While many may not understand the extent of joy I get from these minor activities, those with disabilities that prohibit them from participating in the same manner as others know the exact feeling I do.
The thing is, having to deal with my wheelchair and other medical equipment can be time-consuming. Sitting outside with friends can be harder than some may believe, especially if the batteries in my equipment are not charged. Getting to class on time is gravely difficult when avoiding bumps on campus.
But what exactly is my point with all of this? My point is that everything I was able to do these past few semesters will be almost impossible due to the new “Five-Star Friday” schedule for multiple reasons.
One of the biggest reasons this new schedule re-limits my newfound freedom is the change in how long I must sit in a classroom. If a classroom does not have an electrical outlet near my seat, which is again limited, then my batteries drain faster and decrease how long I can move around.
Even now, I deal with rooms that do not have an electrical outlet near my seat to where I can charge my batteries. However, I am able to make up the lost charging time by sitting in the library during breaks, plugged into a wall, with a coffee in my hands.
This will not be an option come fall because most, if not all, of my classes are longer and start right after one another. The risk of my batteries depleting, thus jeopardizing my health, will increase this fall and that worries me.
Another reason why the new schedule will limit my opportunities on campus is the decreased number of days that are acceptable to miss in class. My immune system is poor and can plummet at any moment in time.
Unlike others, however, when my immune system goes down, it takes days up to weeks to reboot and gain the strength back to keep me healthy. If my health takes a turn for the worse in the middle of the semester, not only must I face the fear of never getting better, but also the fear of failing a class because they counted me absent.
The acceptable number of days a student can miss of a class that meets two days a week is literally only two days. This is how the “Five-Star Friday” schedule is going to affect all students, not just myself.
Emergencies may come up, someone might get sick, or other unexpected events may occur; but if the student has already missed two days of class, then they will not be able to be absent for another without their grade taking the damage.
One last reason why my new freedom will be negatively impacted by the new schedule is my availability to attend events offered on campus. Many students already understand the problem of an event or activity being scheduled during a class time. But more will know the struggle this coming fall.
I understand that Fridays in this new schedule are meant to be open for events, club meetings, labs, student organization fundraisers and more, but how many things can the University expect students to fit into one day?
Personally, my Fridays will consist of catching up on homework from the week and writing for the newspaper. I do not understand where I am supposed to fit my social life in between those two commitments.
As college students, are we expected to choose between health, homework, and happiness? Because if this is the case, colleges should advertise this impossible choice in their pamphlets.
Overall, if not evident by this point, I am a student who is extremely upset with the University’s decision to accept this “Five-Star Friday” schedule and more hurt that voices like mine are not being heard by the President.