OPINION | Elevators a hazard to handicapped students

When the fire alarm went off in the basement of Jordan Hall on March 15, Kevin Weingartner couldn’t scurry up the stairs with the rest of his Butler University classmates who smirked at the buzzing drone, and were thankful to leave class a few minutes early.

For Weingartner, a junior accounting major, getting up the stairs is not that simple.

Weingartner was born with spina bifida, a birth condition where a person’s backbone and spinal canal do not close before birth. He has been in a wheelchair since early childhood and relies heavily on the Jordan Hall elevator to get to his classes on time.

As the stairways clogged with students, Weingartner waited alone in front of the Jordan Hall elevator, which takes nearly a minute and a half to get from the basement to the first floor of Jordan Hall.

“Since it’s a fire alarm, we’re not even supposed to use the elevators,” Weingartner said.

But since he has to—and he’s not the only Butler student who does—the administration should make repairing the elevators a priority.

Weingartner said he’s used to waiting for campus elevators, which usually add anywhere from five to 10 minutes to his daily class commute.

Most times, Butler’s slow elevator speeds aren’t a huge inconvenience for Weingartner. But during a fire alarm, it gets a little scary waiting for the elevator to arrive.

The March 15 fire alarm turned out to be a non-starter, but if it had been a real emergency, it is scary to think about the extra risk for all wheelchair-bound students.

The slow speed of the Jordan elevator is not the only issue. Earlier in the academic year, the same Jordan elevator was inoperable off and on for several weeks.

And two weeks ago, the Gallahue Hall elevator was broken.

But Weingartner will not see this problem solved during his time at Butler.

“The Jordan Hall elevators work fine,” said Gerald Carlson, Butler’s director of maintenance services. “The middle one is slow, but it works.”

Carlson said repairing the Jordan Hall elevators isn’t a top priority because there are other needs that currently trump it, including the Gallahue Hall elevator, which would be first on the list if funding was approved for elevator repairs.

Since repairs don’t look promising in the long run, maybe the next step should be to increase handicapped accessibility. Administrators, take note.

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