MavPODs: a step in the right direction

The tiny rooms that popped up all over campus this past spring were a surprise for many students, who were left with the question: What are these?

After a few weeks of implementation, what we learned to be called “MavPODS” become more and more of a hot button issue, as accessibility concerns brought a complaint about the University’s compliance to the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

With the MavPODs being on campus for almost a full school year, there still continues to be an issue with the number of accessible MavPODs available for all students and faculty to utilize.

This issue was brought to light when the MavPODs were first launched in the beginning of the academic year, as it was pointed out that there was not enough student consultation when the pods were initially purchased. 

Since the arrival of the pods, a complaint was sent by MSU Professor Nancy Fitzsimons to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights. This complaint states the MavPODs placed around campus did not allow full access to all students, specifically those with mobility disabilities, therefore going against the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

In response to the complaint, the University must purchase two additional accessible MavPODs by May 1 and Sept. 1 of this year, as well as show proof of the purchases in order to meet regulation standards.

Although this is a step in the right direction with having equity and inclusion for all, this should’ve been a point voiced before the initial launch of the MavPODs rather than it being an afterthought.

Especially when the intention for the MavPODs were for students to use them as study areas, the first step should have been asking a larger population of MSU students of their initial thought on the functionality of them.

The relaying of this information could have been conducted through sending surveys out via emails, hosting public meetings, or by tabling in the Centennial Student Union. 

Purchasing the MavPODs cost the University roughly $1 million. With a purchase of that size, student feedback should’ve been a number one priority. 

The disregard of accessibility should be particularly haunting for our campus as we gear up for the proposed replacement of the Armstrong building. Students need to be consulted when it comes to massive costs and amenities that directly impact them. 

While the solution to the MavPODs issue solves the noncompliance with ADA, and is overall a step in the right direction, we have to ask ourselves: is the disregard of student feedback going to continue? And if so, what will be the cost?

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