Due to an influx of students in the Ferguson Liberal Arts building this semester, many students with disabilities are being pushed to the back of the line for the elevators.
As more students attend classes in the building, the elevators tend to get crowded. While this affects students and staff alike, students with disabilities are the ones who might be affected the most.
Angela Clarke, administrative assistant of institutional effectiveness, said that there are 307 classes scheduled that meet one to three times per week, for a total of 686 weekly meetings this semester in the Ferguson Liberal Arts building.
With this heavy flow of weekly traffic, more students are using the elevators to get to classes, causing students who can only take the elevator to wait in much longer lines.
While there is no solution to reducing the number of students who pass through Ferguson on a weekly basis, students can find ways to be more mindful of those who need priority access to the elevators by taking the stairs or allowing students with a disability to take the elevator first.
Emily Vanderzwort, student worker for multidisciplinary programs and senior business law major from Bynum, saw an incident happen this semester in Ferguson where a crowd of students waiting for an elevator did not give a student with disabilities first priority on the elevator.
“I was trying to go back up,” Vanderzwort said. “I always take the stairs, and I saw someone in an automated wheelchair in the back of a crowd of 20 to 30 people.” Vanderzwort mentioned that none of the people made any effort to let the student in the wheelchair to the front of the line.
“I understand that not all problems are obvious and visible to the naked eye,” Vanderzwort said. “But, there aren’t going to be 30 people that absolutely have to take the elevator.”
Vanderzwort said she would like to see one of the two elevators at Ferguson completely restricted only to students or faculty with disabilities during the busier hours of the day.
While this is a common issuethatmanystudentsare aware of who take classes in Ferguson, Disability Services continues to meet students’ needs when it comes to equal access to students with disabilities.
“What our office does is work with students who have disabilities to make sure that the university is providing equal access to facilities, to courses, to programs and services on campus,” Tiffany Rivers, director and ADA coordinator of disability services, said. “That includes access, but also making a welcoming and inclusive environment for our students.”
Rivers said that she believes SFA faculty and administration work hard to make the campus as inclusive as possible for students with disabilities. “Our biggest challenge is making sure students are aware of the many resources that are on our campus,” Rivers said.
The ratio of students with disabilities to the rest of the student body is small, ranging from 500-600 students with disabilities compared to the total student population of approximately 13,000. It is important for all students to be more aware of others and how a small change in routine can make a huge difference.