A DkIT student with cerebral palsy says he will spend his entire first year at college without disabled toilet facilities – despite the institution telling him a toilet would be available for him over four months ago.
Conor Byrne, from Clogherhead, who studies English and Politics is a wheelchair user who requires special assistance to use toilet facilities. Before starting at Dundalk Institute of Technology last September, he was told the third-level institute would need to build a specially-purposed bathroom to suite his needs.
According to Conor, that was the reason he ultimately decided to pursue his third level education in Dundalk. As of yet, that bathroom has not been provided and Conor has been forced to use facilities in the neighbouring O’Fiach College.
“I am extremely disappointed and frustrated with the situation. I was told last summer that DKIT would have to build a special
bathroom for my needs. This ultimately made me decide that this was the college for me. They promised that this would be done by Halloween but I would have to temporarily have to leave the campus to use the nearby facilities in O’Fiach College,” he said.
“This is a bit of a trek for me especially in my wheelchair and worse when the weather is poor,” he said.
Conor says the communication from college management has been poor and has been told that the tender for the work has only recently gone out, leaving him to believe his toilet will not be built for this academic year.
“I have worked well with the support of the Students Union and while the communication has been very disappointing from College management, I had now been told that the dates had been put back several time, with the tender only gone recently. This process takes anything from 6-8 weeks. In reality they won’t be anything in place by the time I finish my first year.”
LouthNow.ie reached out to DkIT for comment and they provided a comment (at 3.30pm), which you can read by clicking the link below.
Student Welfare and Equality Officer Taidgh Kavanagh, who is running for Student Union President in tomorrow’s election on campus, has supported Conor’s bid to have these facilities put in in place. He said, “The treatment bestowed upon Conor has been nothing less than disrespectful and unethical.
“A situation like Conor’s should never have happened but it is important that we take action now to prevent anything like this from happening again to any other student. Nobody is disabled once you make an inclusive and accessible environment for all.”
Drogheda Borough councillor Declan Power visited Conor on campus to view the situation and he labelled it “a breach of student independence, dignity and respect.”
“I am calling on DKIT management team to fulfil their commitment as a matter of urgency and build Conor the bathroom/Changing room as promised and live up to their values of equality, inclusion and diversity as the college seek to up grade to University Technical status, he said.
“Conor is a great guy from a great family in Clogherhead. The whole experience has been extremely disappointing and frustrating for Conor and not the greatest first impression you want from your Local third level provider,” the Independent councillor said.
“This is totally unacceptable and unfair treatment from College management and a failure to deliver basic sanitary requirements for a student with disability issues. The failure to provide the disabled toilet is in breach of student independence, dignity and respect that also de-values student equality, inclusion and diversity.”