In the past, we at the Washburn Review have published several stories pertaining to elevator problems and the serious issues they pose for accessibility on campus.
This past weekend, the handicapped lift in the Garvey Fine Arts Center shut down while junior Jasper Shrake was inside. Had he not had a cellphone on him, he would have been trapped inside until someone found him there. After contacting the Washburn Police Department, the Topeka Fire Department was contacted, who Shrake says broke the lift further to free him.
This most recent incident in the Garvey Fine Arts Center is the latest in a chain of lift and elevator shutdowns in multiple buildings, including the Henderson Learning Center and the Art Building. Both of the Henderson elevator incidents involved student Dallas Hathaway, and the recurrent problems and lack of an effective response made him feel he didn’t matter to the school.
This is a serious problem that has affected handicapped students over and over again. What’s more, it’s growing apparent that the solutions the university has in place are not working.
Moving classes to lower level classrooms to accommodate their handicapped students being unable to access them without the elevator does not solve the underlying problem of malfunctions. With buildings such as the Garvey Fine Arts Center where the upper floor rooms are specialized practice rooms for students, the solution of moving to a lower floor is not possible.
Contacting the fire department to free the student further breaks the elevator or lift, leaving the elevator unusable for other students. Preventative measures are always better than reactive.
Regarding the issue of elevator shutdowns on campus, it is clear the university’s methods only cut branches rather than the roots of the problems. We must call upon the university to address the real underlying problem behind these incidents.
The older buildings utilize hydraulic pump elevators, which could be renovated to cable elevators much less likely to break.
According to the Washburn Board of Regents’ general fund page, posted in September 2015, we have an $8 million maintenance budget. Can we not afford to help the handicapped with $8 million?