An Eye-Opening Week at UR

The University of Rochester has been making great strides towards becoming handicap accessible-- or so I thought until last Tuesday. I currently have a stress fracture in my leg and I am in a “walking boot” but still need to use crutches. Semi-luckily for me, I can sort of hobble around and push my way through less-accessible areas… but I have decided to post my rant because I know I’m not the only one thinking this.

 

I would like to note that part of the accessibility issue has been addressed - sort of - because now all the handicap buttons actually work (yes, I swear this was an issue my freshman year); they completely remodeled the entrance to Hutchinson Hall where they created a slant onto the curb and replaced the awkward up and down stairs with a single ramp. They have additional ramps that if requested can increase accessibility to certain areas such as Wilson Commons.

 

Regardless of these changes, this has still been the most annoying and frustrating week I have ever spent at the University of Rochester.

 

As I said before, I am in a walking boot so I can still sort of struggle up and down the occasional set of stairs and cause tunnel traffic jams to get where I’m going…  but for someone who truly cannot walk, use stairs, or is in a wheelchair, the experience is probably much more frustrating. Some of my friends make comments like “if you’re in a wheel chair, you really can’t even see this campus” - which is unfortunate but probably true.

 

First, I work in Wilson Commons at Blimpie’s. If I am coming to work from the gym, I have to walk up a small set of stairs just to get to the elevator. If I wanted to, I could go up the ramp into Douglas take the elevator up, walk across the bridge to Wilco, walk back to the elevator and get to the first floor… phew… that’s a lot, right? Well, I’m stubborn so I grudgingly hobble up the stairs (in everyone’s way when it’s busy) instead of walking all the way around.

 

Now, let’s talk about Mel… the building that has slowly become the death of me this past week since I not only have class there twice a week, but I also work in that building too. If it is cold outside (which… its Rochester… ) I want to take the tunnels. Regardless of which way you walk you must go down 5 stairs to get into the hot sauna hallway, then you have to push through the sea of people to get to the door to actually enter Mel. Before you get to where the classes are you pass through another hallway with 2 sets of completely unnecessary stairs.

 

You may ask why I don’t just walk outside if I’m so bothered by all the stairs… which as I addressed before is mostly due to the cold, but there is also the fact that to get there you must either go up more stairs (shocker) or you have to go up literally the steepest hill on campus.

 

I actually did decide to go that way yesterday… knowing that I can normally appreciate the steepness, but because I’m stubborn and want the “easiest” route, I checked it out… That was the best workout I’ve had all week; I could barely move my crutches forward without feeling like I might topple over backwards. Have not, and will not ever again go that way again while on crutches.

 

One other thing that has been super annoying, but that nobody can really fix… I have a newfound and deep appreciation for the ability to carry things, I have not been able to eat on the run or grab Starbucks before class all week (unless I’m with a friend who is willing to carry these for me (ty: Lily, Amanda, Sarah, Ana, Nikki and anyone else who’s helped me this past week). Instead, I must sit down and eat, or find a spot in the library and then hobble back down to Starbucks/ The Pit for coffee/ food.

 

 

Everyone please take a second to appreciate how blessed you are for this ability!

 

I understand that anywhere you go on crutches is going to be less convenient then when you can just walk around normally. But this is definitely something that needs to be addressed because there are students and faculty here (or who may want to come here in the future) that are not just injured and temporarily on crutches, but rely on their wheelchair or cane to get around. The ADA requires that the necessary accommodations be made at institutions such as college campuses, and I for one implore the University of Rochester to be ever better.