A message from the Disabled Students’ Campaign
In January 2017, the Uni 4 bus service changed its route to one which no longer passed Homerton College and the Education Faculty, a change which came after the frequency of the service decreased with only six months of notice. The Uni 4 -now called the “Universal”- is a bus subsidised by the University that provides cheaper fares (£1) for University members to Addenbrookes, Sidgwick site, and West Cambridge site.
The change of route was approved by the University’s Planning and Resources committee as it promised to service more University members than the previous route and generate larger profits. This change has affected a large number of students, namely those at Homerton College (the University’s most populous College with 1400 students) and students at the Education Faculty. In particular, this change has been incredibly damaging to disabled students, for whom the service was a cheap and accessible lifeline to the town centre and educational sites.
The CUSU Disabled Students’ Campaign protested the change when it was first announced in 2016, and unfortunately many of the fears held by disabled students at the time -such as being unable to attend lectures and supervisions- have come true. Students with a range of disabilities have been affected, including those with mental health difficulties, chronic fatigue, reduced mobility, and visual impairments.
While it is understandable that the University wishes its subsidised transport services to be efficient and useful to a wide number of students, it is unacceptable to ignore the students who benefit most from accessible public transport. Taxis have been provided for some disabled students this is not a permanent or perfect solution, and a better alternative must be provided by the University.
Continual efforts have been made by student representatives and other members of the committee to bring attention to the issues the route change has caused, but as the new route is performing as expected in increasing revenues for Whippet and the University no action has been taken by the committee.
This kind of neglect is exemplary of a marketised, business-minded University which is incompatible with an education that actively includes and uplifts disabled students and students from other marginalised identities; we are not a profitable market and are ignored until a quota needs to be filled that identifies the University as sufficiently “diverse.”
The Disabled Students’ Campaign is calling on the University to swiftly create an alternative method of transportation for all students affected by the Uni 4’s change in service, and which is specifically accessible to and approved by disabled students.