Bryant lobbies for services

Kelsie O' Connell

The blaring tornado sirens told Washburn students and Topekans to take cover.

With no way to place himself among his fellow students in the basement of the Washburn Village, Bryant sat among a few Residential living staff in the lobby, not sure if the situation was safe at all.

Since then, some have wondered if any improvements have been made for the evacuation of students with disabilities since the incident.

According to staff at the Washburn Residential Living office, the common area in the Village where Bryant had been located during the storm was, in fact, safe.

“The fire department and emergency personnel have cleared that as a safe place for someone to stay in case of an emergency,” said Mindy Rendon, director of Residential Living at Washburn.  “So in the instance that somebody is wheelchair bound, they would be able to be at that location and be safe.”

Bryant still isn’t satisfied with the way the university handled the situation. After writing an article about the incident in 2007 for the Washburn Review, Bryant said he called the University a year later to ask what happened down there in the Washburn Village.

“I was living back in the Living Learning Center,” said Bryant. “And they told me don’t worry, because you’re not going to be living [in the Washburn Village].”

For now, residential living and student services at Washburn say that prior arrangements and precautions will, and have been made, for students with disabilities living in the residential halls.

Rendon said she cannot speak on behalf of Washburn University as a whole, but all residents living on campus have a safe place to go in case of a tornado or emergency.

“It was a safe facility, but they just hadn’t approved that as a place to stay [yet],” said Rendon. “It has been since.”

Bryant said he still plans on revisiting the school to see if any plans or changes have been made to improve the situation for future students.

“I don’t think anyone would consider sitting at the top of the stairs to be a safe place during a tornado,” said Bryant. “I think that it’s a huge liability for Washburn.”