For as long as I can remember, I’ve been disabled. My leg was partially paralyzed by a virus when I was nine months old. As a student at Spring Arbor University (SAU) for the past three and a half years, I’ve had the chance to experience some amazing things. For the most part, my disability hasn’t held me back while I’ve been a student here. However, there are still a few things that SAU could change to make their campus not only more accessible but also safer for all students.
1. Sidewalk on the east side of Cottage Street
I know there’s a sidewalk on the west side of Cottage Street, but students coming from Gainey Hall or Andrews Hall will agree, walking down Cottage Street itself is easier than crossing the street, then crossing back over because your class is in Smith Music Center or Sayre-Decan Hall. This puts students in danger of vehicles. Additionally, in the winter months, treatment of Cottage Street is neither as rapid nor as complete as the snow removal and deicing of sidewalks on campus. Additionally, there is no crossing area marked on the road for people to cross near Gainey Hall or Deitzman Hall’s ground floor access.
SAU’s ground maintenance crews do an excellent job of trying to clear student parking lots over the winter with student cooperation. However, parking lots cover a lot of ground and they don’t need the same sort of salting that sidewalks do. They can remain icy when there are melting-refreezing periods in the winter. While I’m not arguing for the treatment of all student lots, Gainey Hall is especially difficult to enter from the parking lot in the winter. To enter via the back door, one can go up the sidewalk that leads to the south wing, then through the snow to the circle drive at the back of the building. The circle is typically maintained, though not as well as streets or sidewalks. Following the circle to the back door, one can walk up the short sidewalk and then swipe in. To enter via the front door, one must follow the sidewalk that leads to the Resident Director’s apartment. It has a semi-permanent ice patch, crossing the entirety of the path, next to the parking lot due to the slant of the sidewalk. Additionally, one must step through the rock garden across the paving stones, attempting not to catch anything on the bushes or trip over bikes remaining on the bike rack. This paving stone area is difficult to maintain in the winter because it isn’t sidewalk. Snow sometimes freezes into the shape of bootprints that you have to fit your foot in in order to get through. If the snow does melt down to the point of the stones, it can freeze and leave the paving stones icy. Try to get into Gainey Hall from the parking lot with your arms full of groceries in winter could easily lead to slip-and-falls. The sidewalk leading to the door of the South Wing of Gainey Hall is always maintained in the winter, making it the best door to get in.
By Bethany Hart