As a non-native Angeleno, I believe that the most misleading of all Southern California stereotypes is the phrase “the rolling hills of Southern California,” at least insofar as it applies to USC.
It was a relieving discovery, as an incoming freshman in fall 2008, that such a description was better applied to the campus across town. Being a student in a wheelchair at USC has been relatively pleasant; I was welcomed by a predominantly flat campus, with many handicap-accessible ramps.
The seas of bikes outside Leavey Library and the Lyon Center, however, have posed a problem in my stay here. Usage of the wheelchair ramp occurs sparingly, which creates a sort of “out of sight, out of mind” scenario.
The easiest solution is to stress that regardless of how often it gets used, it is a wheelchair access ramp first and foremost.
USC should install more bike spaces so the wheelchair accessibility ramps are not blocked. Moreover, campus security could help alleviate such issues by being more vigilant about where and when students park their bikes.
Occasionally, students have been desperate enough to lock their bikes to the inside of the handicap ramp — this is understandable. There comes a time in the day when there just isn’t any more space left to park a bike. Locking bikes to the inside of the ramp, however, makes it nearly impossible to reach the other ramp, even if you wanted to.
This clearly poses a problem to people that need to use said ramps. Though wheelchair accessibility hasn’t been a major issue in most places around campus, the hotbed of foot traffic and, in turn, bike traffic around Leavey Library and the Lyon Center threatens accessibility.
Along with a joint effort from students, these problems could be solved. If students can be more aware of those in wheelchairs, they could potentially augment said issues rather quickly. Yes, it is rare to see a wheelchair on campus. I can assure you, though, we are here, we are nice and we promise not to knock your bikes over.
Nick Kostopoulos is a senior majoring in screenwriting.