“They’ve got enough money for a meditation room, but not for a lift that works. I’ve complained so many times.”
Isaac, Sex Education Season 4
Sound familiar? Season 4 of the glorious TV series ‘Sex Education’ brought us some well earned disability representation – including the deep and consistent frustration with the lack of building accessibility at a rich and outwardly inclusive institution. So after swearing at a broken lift yet again I decided our buildings needed a thorough and seriously satirical investigation to rank them. Because who doesn’t love a hypercompetitive critical academic lens applied to inanimate objects that can’t defend themselves?
So here they are, our best and our worst as voted by you dear readers *drum roll please*
- Abercrombie Building (ABS)
Lush staircase AND working lifts? What a dreamboat. Leading the charge for the best buildings on campus is the signature social media ready home of the Business School. The ramp to the front of this one is as inviting as, well, a really good ramp and decidedly worth the bumpy trip TO it. All the rooms have accessible features and if you’re lucky you even get to have a class in one of the trial multifunctional teaching spaces that have diverse seating options and a funky layout. ABS, you sexy thing. In case you’ve not found this treasure yet, ABS can be found on the corner of Abercrombie Street and Codrington Street, and she has a cafe inside so it’s worth a visit.
- Sydney College of the Arts (SCA, Old Teachers College)
A bit of a dark horse entry, for one of the older buildings on campus SCA punches above its accessibility weight. It gives you the world class aesthetics of a heritage venue we all know we partly went to this University for, and if you can work out the entrance (why are there ramps to the stairs? Where is the main ramp?). The lifts are turtles, not hares – but they work, there are hearing loops in most rooms, and the accessible bathrooms have automatic doors! As former SRC Disabilities and Carers Officer Robin Eames tells me the fact that they announce when you’re using them is … less than ideal but hey I don’t know maybe you like everyone knowing you’re about to pee I don’t judge.
- The Conservatorium of Music
The Conservatorium of Music gets a special mention for being 100% accessible which means between SCA and the Con our artistic and musical colleagues are onto a good thing here. The only drawback is that I’ve been told by Conservatorium Students’ Association President Alexander Poirier that the lifts take 10294720842037 hours to move one floor because they also have to move pianos. All the signage in the building has tactile braille though, even the Students’ Association, so the Conservatorium gets a free pass for having to move big delicate objects and not just disabled students. Turns our it’s a symphony of accessibility in there.
Honourable Mention: The Charles Perkins Centre: what can we say, we like our grand staircases at the University of Sydney. Pair them with working lifts made of glass and you have another case of delightfulitis. Plus they do cool interdisciplinary work to improve global health in that building, always a bonus. Close to RPA, sporting accessible features and a concierge… meow what a catch.
- Wentworth Building
Taking out the crown for the worst building on campus is the home of the SRC, the Wentworth Building. As Disabilities and Carers officer Khanh Tran quotes: “As much as I hold the Langford Office and the SRC very close to my heart, the serial lack of windows, crumbling ceiling and dangling wires is a hazard waiting to pounce. This is before mentioning the woefully unreliable old lifts at the back of the building. Meanwhile, the maze inside the second floor is almost as if I’m in a game of Pacman.” I’ve also been known to swear at the lifts in this building, and the sushi place deserves an accessible entrance dammit.
- The Quadrangle
She may be pretty, but once you scratch the surface it’s a hot mess. Ah the beautiful but inaccessible Quad. Jewel of Camperdown and nightmare for those of us with mobility issues, or needing an accessible bathroom, or like, basically human. Some rooms on the ground floor have been made accessible and props to the University for this, but there are large parts of the building that cannot be accessed except by the most spritely and able-bodied among us, and the room numbering is a nightmare. Perhaps some of the Engineering buildings or Wallace should be taking this spot, but the Quad is in our promo material, and we deserve better.
- The Chemistry Building
Old, hot, stinky. Do we even like Chemistry anyway? Just kidding, I love my chemistry colleagues and reckon they deserve better than a confusing rabbit den of a building with a temperature regulation problem. As Disability Inclusion Action Plan Postgraduate Representative Rosie Bogs quips: “What is with that gigantic bottom step? and why is the ‘warning’ label on one side only? you can see it on the way up but not the way down. It’s also painful to find the lifts in that place.” I know I’ve spent more time than I would have liked walking round in circles in that building!
Dishonourable Mention: The Holme Building houses many things including SUPRA and while it is definitely a cut above the home of the SRC, its accessible features are often lacking or broken. The Courtyard Cafe gets a tick for good food, but time in the naughty corner for consistently blocking a clear path to the tiny lift. 4.5/10