Accessibility: far from finished

 

Tyler Wooley
Staff Writer

He is running late for class, something most students are familiar with.

Ryan Wilkes, a senior multimedia journalism major from Luverne, spent so much time getting ready for a day full of classes.

Even after he deals with his car troubles, he finally makes it to campus with just enough time to make it to the second floor of Patterson Hall.

When he gets to the building, however, his whole day is ruined. The elevator is broken.

Wilkes cannot just take the stairs like most students because he needs a wheelchair.

I’ll admit, this didn’t cross my mind at all until recently.

If the elevator is broken, Wilkes cannot get to his first two classes.

Wilkes said that this is not the first time the elevator in Patterson Hall had been broken. He said that it breaks at least once every semester, and he missed class because of it.

“I’ve actually been stuck on the third floor when the elevator broke,” Wilkes said. “I had to wait until they came to fix it.”

Wilkes said that he avoids the elevators if possible.

“I don’t trust them,” Wilkes said.

Aside from this being inconvenient, it can also be unsafe.

What would Wilkes do if a fire started or any other need for evacuation occurred while the elevator was broken?

The outside is not much better, either.

Not all of the automated door buttons work. Wilkes said the only button for Patterson does not work, and that some buttons for other buildings are placed on entrances that are barely accessible themselves.

Wilkes told me that there are some buildings on campus that do not have automated doors at all.

Now, on to the sidewalks.

Wilkes said that the uneven pavement and brick are not only rough to ride on, but also rip the wheels on his chair to shreds. One look, and I could tell.

At least the academic parts of campus are accessible, however treacherous they may be. Some on-campus housing is nearly impossible and definitely illogical.

The handicapped parking behind the dining hall does not make sense. The ramp to the sidewalk means well but leads only to stairs.

To leave the parking lot, Wilkes has to ride in the street for an extended period of time to find a ramp on the other side, which is not safe for him.

Once he gets on the sidewalk, he must navigate through a labyrinth to find his way anywhere thanks to a few unnecessary steps.

Yes, we have a beautiful campus here. We also have an obligation to students who need these accommodations to supply them what they need.

Wilkes wants to let Troy know that he can tell the university is trying to make the campus more accessible, but it is far from finished.

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