Senators approve disabled access bill

Jessica Gdowski

Associated Student Government senators unanimously passed two pieces of legislation Wednesday — including one that requires student groups to provide accommodations for disabled students wishing to attend events.

The motion revises the guidelines of ASG’s Executive Committee, which monitors student groups, and the Student Activities Finance Board, which allocates student group funding. Under the revised rules, student groups are responsible for providing handicapped access to events if possible.

“It seems like a small thing to us, but there are a lot of people for whom this really is a big deal,” said John Hughes, Rainbow Alliance senator and co-author of the legislation.

Providing ramps and handicapped-accessible buses to take students off campus for events might be a new demand on student groups, but Hughes said it will not significantly alter programming or student-group funding requests.

“The allocations that student groups receive now are generally sufficient to cover any costs associated with this,” said Hughes, a Weinberg sophomore. “If a group found that it would need a little extra for a (handicapped-accessible) bus, they could bring that to the attention of SAFB.”

Daniel Ellman, who uses wheelchair said he has not had too much trouble when attending events. But the member of Wheels for Change, a group that advocates for greater accessibility on campus, said more work is needed and the bill is “a step in the right direction.”

“I do know there are some events that aren’t in accessible locations,” said Ellman, a Medill sophomore. “It gets quite frustrating (to change people’s views).”

Representatives of some student groups said the new legislation will not dramatically influence their planning.

“In the past, I don’t think Dance Marathon has ever turned away anyone in a wheelchair that wanted to dance,” said Weinberg Senior David Nyweide, a former DM public relations co-chairman. “That would be awful.”

Also at the meeting, senators approved a bill calling for the creation of ATECs — an off-campus apartment rating system officially termed Apartment Testimonials, Evaluations and Concerns.

The rating system will provide a forum for tenants to describe their apartment experience and will be available to help future tenants before they sign leases.

In new business, senators heard presentations on five pieces of legislation to be voted on next week. One resolution calls upon Evanston City Council to delay the redistricting of wards in Evanston until after students return for classes, so students will not be denied a “politically cohesive voting block,” according to Hughes, the bill’s author.

NU’s Evanston Campus currently straddles the First and Seventh wards. Hughes contends the redistricting process could further divide NU’s on-campus voting constituency.

Among the legislation introduced at the meeting, one bill asks NU Health Services to make reproductive health educator sessions optional for students before they have their first gynecological exam or begin a new prescription.

Another bill requests that more “recycling stations” be made available on campus and that recycling bins be more clearly labeled. The legislation also asks NU Facilities Management to recycle more types of plastic and establish a central recycling location on campus.

In legislative matters, Executive Vice President Bryan Tolles announced at the meeting the selection of 21 student groups who are eligible to hold senator positions next year.