Staff editorial: University-driven surveys hold promise

Washington University is seeking feedback from the University community regarding the current state and future of student-facing spaces on campus as part of the University’s year-long planning process for its next 25-year period of renovation. Posted in 12 different zones around campus, signage will give passersby the opportunity to answer questions and give feedback about the space via a two-minute online survey and focus groups.

The Student Life Editorial Board commends the University for taking proactive steps to solicit feedback as they plan the future of the University. The board not only encourages students to take advantage of this opportunity to voice both their concerns and suggestions, but also expects the University to be open to the suggestions they receive.

If the University is to maintain its status as one of the best spaces for undergraduates students in this country to live and learn, the school needs to take both aesthetic priorities and functional requests of university members seriously. The Editorial Board would like to highlight one particularly important area for improvement: the current lack of accessibility on campus. As detailed in WU: In Focus, “According to the University’s published campus accessibility data, 15 buildings on the University’s Danforth Campus lack accessible entrances. Many people with physical disabilities, especially those using wheelchairs or other mobility devices, cannot enter these 15 buildings, the majority of which are residence halls.”

Like when designing classes and drafting University policy, the administration needs to treat accessibility as foundational by building it into their objectives at the beginning stages of development in plans for architecture as well. It seems like Wash. U. is becoming more forward-thinking into their on-campus designs—as evidenced by the car garage in the East End construction that can be converted into class spaces down the line. The University should continue this philosophy as they continue building a campus that will foster an equitable space for all students, instructors and staff in the coming years, regardless of class, background or physical ability.

Although the board considers perhaps the most important question in the survey to be “What opportunities do you see for equitable change at this place?” you may have other priorities. It is important that students take the opportunity to voice their concerns while keeping in mind that they will likely have graduated by the time the changes are unveiled. Universities are not always eager to listen to what their students think; consequently, fill out these surveys for no other reason than to show the administration that it is appreciated when they ask what we have to say.