The visitors that come to Notre Dame for our tradition-filled football weekends range from children playing by Stonehenge to old men wearing Notre Dame baseball caps and sweaters. They are an important part of our tradition. We hope one day to return with our children, as old men and women in our baseball caps and sweaters.
Given the diversity of our visitors and the importance of sharing the Notre Dame tradition, I was surprised to find that we lack some accommodations for visitors. This was the first time I had to find transportation options for a family member who can’t walk very far or for very long.
The handicapped parking lot in D2 is far from many on-campus activities. A shuttle takes people from that lot closer to the stadium, but the only way to get from that shuttle to the stadium is to walk. Gameday festivities are an important tradition for alumni, but many are nowhere near the stadium. So how would a person who couldn’t walk well, especially without a wheelchair, travel anywhere on campus from the parking lot or shuttle?
The answer is they probably wouldn’t, which I find sad, especially at a school where fans and students enjoy sharing gameday traditions with their families. This weekend before the game, a family member of mine couldn’t walk to Concert on the Steps. As a proud member of the Band of the Fighting Irish, it would have been important if all of my family could have seen one last Concert on the Steps, not my family minus one. When my brother asked a security officer if he could help get my family member to Bond Hall, he simply answered “I’m sorry, but we don’t provide that.”
On game weekends, with limited campus access, when one must walk everywhere, how do disabled family and friends share in these special traditions? Even providing scooters or wheelchairs at the visitor center could help the elderly and disabled enjoy the football traditions. At a university like Notre Dame, our answer to that question should not be “Sorry, but we don’t provide that.”