We waited for a few minutes until it was time for our meeting. We were early, so this was to be expected.
Ryan Wilkes, a senior multimedia journalism major from Luverne, and I were meeting with Dean of Students Herbert Reeves about some specific examples of handicapped accessibility issues Wilkes experiences on campus.
Wilkes, a senior multimedia journalism major from Luverne, uses a wheelchair. This gives him an insight to these problems that most people don’t think twice about.
We began the meeting fairly cordially, the usual “How are y’all doing today?”
Up to this point Dean Reeves had been very open with me about the fact that Troy University can improve its handicapped accessibility, so I had no reason to doubt his intentions.
The first thing I noticed was the way Dean Reeves sat in his chair.
Instead of sitting straight up with perfect posture, he leaned back in his office chair. Way back.
His relaxed demeanor struck me as odd until it hits me: he is a person, not just a robot with a title.
This became even more apparent when we started listing the specific things that can be done around campus.
“I have stopped even trying to use the push-button door in Patterson,” Wilkes said. “It hasn’t worked since I started going to school here.”
I fully expected Dean Reeves to nod, write the grievance on a list and wait for the next item. What he did instead was the polar opposite of what I envisioned.
He immediately turned around, grabbed his phone and told someone that the push-button door in Patterson needed to be fixed.
Guess what was fixed? That’s right, the push-button door in Patterson.
As we went down the list of places either Ryan or I have noticed that need some work, Dean Reeves was actively listening.
He asked questions, making sure he knows specifically where this sidewalk is, brainstorming ideas to get our opinion, etc. He even went so far as to draw a map on a piece of paper so we could pinpoint specific spots.
We talked after we got done with the heart of the matter. He was asking how classes are going and inviting us to let him know if there are any other problems.
I say all of this because he is a person and not the automated robot programmed to churn out the typical “politician answers” I previously mentioned.
He spends his days genuinely helping the students with the problems they face every day.
“I think it was very effective,” Wilkes said. “I’m glad he asserted himself in the situation and took care of business.”
If anyone has a problem with something on campus, I strongly recommend contacting Reeves about the issue. He really is here to help us, and he has shown me that he does everything in his power to do that.