UCSB may soon have a fast and (not so) furious program to help disabled students get to class.
The student-led initiative aims to help individuals with crutches and other mobility problems get around campus by having drivers transport them via golf cart. The proposal, however, faces funding obstacles and liability concerns from campus administrators.
Associated Students Internal Vice President Chris Wendle and Ashley Day, a fourth-year political science major, are pushing for the program. The pair first imagined the service two years ago, when a mutual friend was temporarily disabled by leg surgery.
Wendle said his friend’s experience made him aware of the difficulties of navigating campus for the disabled. Wendle and Day served on the Associated Students Legislative Council together and decided to pair up to establish the program.
The program, however, must overcome a series of obstacles before it can be implemented.
“We need approval from all levels of campus admini-stration to ensure that we can offer everything that [we want to],” Day said. “[We have to] go through hoops to make sure its safe.”
Some campus administrators are concerned about potential school liability for the program.
Disabled Students Program Director Gary White said he is concerned about the dangers of motor vehicles being driven by students on campus. However, he also said that his program gets frequent calls from disabled students hoping for transportation, so there is a demand for the new proposal.
“The need is out there,” White said.
Wendle said his proposal needs more work, including determining what the boundaries of the service would be. He also acknowledged the liability concerns.
“The administration would be more comfortable if the program started small and on campus. Eventually [it] could move off once [it is] well established,” Wendle said.
UCSB is the only UC campus that does not have some kind of program to help disabled students get around campus. While UCSB once offered such a service, it was dropped approximately 10 years ago due to budget concerns.
Ultimately, Wendle said, he would want the program to operate online, where students could make reservations for specific times and locations. He aims to have to program running by the end of next Winter Quarter.
However, Wendle also said he is still determining how the program would be managed. The program could be designed as a part of the Disabled Students Program or included as part of Student Health, where students will be identified as injured or disabled and thus qualify for transportation.
Furthermore, Wendle and Day both hope the idea will eventually develop into a work study program.
The program would be entirely student-operated, Wendle said, and provide job opportunities for students. Undergraduate employees would be hired to schedule appointments and drive golf carts.