Renovating Beckwith will honor veterans

A proposal is in the works to convert Beckwith Hall, which is currently unused, into housing for disabled student veterans. That proposal should be turned into reality.

What better way to honor our veterans, as well at the University’s history of accessibility?

After the end of World War II, the University opened up a Galesburg campus in order to accommodate returning veterans seeking degrees. 1948 was a milestone year. We became the first university to offer a “support service program” that helped students with disabilities attend the University, the first college offering students with disabilities the opportunity to compete in adapted athletics, and more. The Galesburg campus, which had been converted from a veterans’ hospital, closed in 1949 — but the tradition of accessible higher education continued on this campus.

Brave students stood up for the importance of making campus welcoming and inclusive of those with disabilities in a time when accessibility was not the norm. We should remember their passion and carry the vision forward.

Having a place for veterans to live surrounded by others who know what they have been through, especially those who have made sacrifices resulting in disabilities, would help ease the transition into University life.

These men and women are not fledgling freshmen in need of a dorm and programs explaining the basics of life far from home. Programs tailored to benefit veterans with disabilities could be offered at Beckwith instead.

Veterans bring valuable experience and contributions to the University. We benefit from their presence here and should do what we can to make this a welcoming place for them ­— including those with disabilities.

The proposal will likely be completed by the end of this year, and we believe it should be supported by all members of our community until it is carried to completion. Renovating Beckwith Hall to provide a place for these veterans would honor their service and sacrifice. Our University needs to welcome them with truly open arms, and this is a valuable opportunity to do so.