Over Christmas break, the university changed the handicap accessible doors to be automatic after a resolution unanimously passed in December.
Jenny Gower, sophomore youth and family ministry major from Houston, and Ozzy Garcia, sophomore youth and family ministry major from Dumas drafted the resolution in November and presented it to congress in December.
“The first thing I thought of was the doors,” said Gower, a representative for the College of Biblical Studies. “I didn’t like the way they worked and I always saw a problem with people coming in and out. The button wouldn’t work, so that’s when I approached Ozzy because he had shown interest too and had looked into it previously before I brought it up to him.”
Garcia, in his second year of involvement with SGA, said he had a few projects he wanted to start last year, but was timid to do so. He is also on the Americans with Disabilities Act committee alongside Corey Ruff, director of physical resources, who ensures campus meets ADA compliance.
“We brought up some doors where we heard issues from students that struggled or have physical impairments,” said Garcia. “We wanted to make it easier for them first and foremost.”
Gower said she approached Garcia for help because he had the knowledge of how to fix the doors. Garcia said his expectations were only that the motor in the door would be fixed, but they had hopes for the doors to be changed completely.
“Within the resolution, we actually just kept it very broad,” Gower said. “Even it’s just replacing the motor and getting a new one, we wanted that to be done.”
The duo said the only requirement was that the doors be fixed by the time students returned from Christmas break.
Garcia is a tour guide, and said when he came back, he was giving a tour and saw that the doors had not been started. By Thursday, crews had torn the walls down and Ozzy said he knew administration was doing more than just fixing the motor.
“When we found out it was sliding doors, we both were shocked,” Gower said. “I didn’t think it was going to happen. So Ozzy had been on campus for a short course and called me with just pure excitement in his voice.”
Garcia and Gower had two inspirations, Savannah Mitcham and a freshman student.
Mitcham, a sophomore child and family services major from Lewisville had a lot of say in the doors because she is the primary student voice on the ADA accessibility committee.
“Almost all of my classes are in the Bible building,” said Mitcham, who has cerebral palsy. “The Bible building is the one thing I wanted fixed if I had a choice.”
Though Garcia said his next feat is the dorms, Mitcham said a big problem area is Moody.
“The doors are a big step in the right direction,” Mitcham said. “Maybe soon we will be able to get some donors to help make campus more accessible, but in the meantime I will celebrate this big victory.”