Bricks and Barriers at The College of Charleston

At the College of Charleston, our sidewalks are composed of historic and beautiful herringbone bricks. When touring the college as a prospective student, you are always told the history behind them. Over the years, however, these bricks have been drastically upheaved and distorted causing them to become dangerously uneven for the pedestrians of Charleston.

Almost every student at the College has to walk around on campus throughout the day. I can’t even begin to count the times that I’ve watched people trip over the very ground that they're walking on: either luckily catching themselves, or hitting the ground. Not only am I a witness to this daily, but I have been caught tripping on the beautifully laid brickwork as well. For God’s sake, it happens so often that we even have a nickname for this occurrence: The Charleston Shuffle!

If the sidewalks on our campus can trip up the able-bodied student on campus, imagine what it’s like for those with disabilities. The uneven sidewalks make our campus almost completely inaccessible for students with mobility issues who require a walker, cane, or wheelchair of any sort. Anyone who wants to tour our little section of Charleston should be able to do so without the limitations of mobility issues paired with unstable sidewalks. My grandmother can’t even come to visit me on campus because of the sidewalks alone. As she fully relies on a wheelchair or a cane to get around, she is terrified of the increased risk of falling and injuring herself on our campus.

While the inaccessibility that this campus leaves its disabled students with is severely detrimental to their daily lives, it is not just a select few that this issue affects. The common public also has to deal with the campus’ incapability to fix the sidewalks.

Why is the College of Charleston ignoring this obvious issue? Everyone talks about it. Neither is it a quiet issue nor a new obstacle. The College is one of the oldest public college institutions in the United States, founded in 1770, and the same sidewalks that pedestrians used in the 1800s are the same ones being walked on today. Is it not time for an upgrade? If not an upgrade, at least a renovation? C’mon CofC, you see your students, staff, and visitors struggling every day to get around. Do something about it. It is time to prioritize the safety and comfort of the members of this campus. If there is no action, there is no doubt that The College will deter and lose great numbers of students with mobility issues of all kinds. Why must you put our (prospective) students in this position in the first place?

The ground beneath our feet is something that we all place our blind faith in every single day from the moment we get out of bed to the second we lay our heads to rest for the night. We expect it to be there, to be safe to walk on. While our college claims to hold accessibility for ALL students to the highest standard, then why is nothing being done about the sidewalks that we have to walk on every day. There is no doubt that the conditions of our sidewalks are causing an epidemic of unnecessary injuries to our students, but those with mobility issues have an intense struggle every day just trying to make their way to class.