SCSU police unaware of protocol


Anisa Jibrell – News Writer

The painful sound of the fire alarm rattling the ears of students who live in North Campus is something residents are all too familiar with. Whispers of irritation fill the hallways as students lock their doors and make their way toward the staircases. Eventually, residents make their way outside, and after a vast assortment of eye rolls and dramatic sighs, students eagerly return to their habitats and hectic schedules.

But for students who depend on a wheelchair like Stephen Dayton, sixth-floor North Campus resident and graduate assistant at the Recreation and Leisure office, the drill is a little different.

“I wait for an officer to come to my room,” said Dayton. “I’ve waited 15 to 20 minutes before for an officer has come to my door. If it’s a real fire, especially on the sixth floor, in 20 minutes the whole place could be done.”

On one occasion, a campus officer went to Dayton’s room during a fire drill and asked him what the protocol was if there actually was a real fire, said Dayton.

“I kind of just gave him this look,” said Dayton. “You’re the one who’s supposed to be protecting us.”

Dayton said campus police should overall be more aware of students with disabilities who live on campus.

“The campus police are not very respectful of the handicap spots,” said Dayton. “They park in the lines, they park in the handicap spots. That’s against the law.

Overall, Dayton said the university’s handicap accessibility is great and one the best aspects of it is the shuttle service.

“That helps out a lot. Especially in the wintertime when there’s some snow on the ground,” said Dayton. “When I first started here, I didn’t really know about the shuttle, so I was pushing over to Davis. I saw someone taking the shuttle, so I approached her and she gave me the shuttle number,” Dayton laughed. “I was on the list, I just didn’t know I was on the list.”

Katie Martinez, a psychology major, said her friend from back home who is wheelchair-dependent comes to visit. She tries to take her to Conn Hall for dinner, but the door at the end of the ramp is locked.

“I think overall, Southern’s accessibility is great, but that door should be unlocked at all times,” said Martinez. “Having to knock on a door to get food is annoying.”

Dayton said the only way to get in is down a ramp around the side, that to him is very steep and one time during the winter he actually got stuck at the bottom.

“Every time I went there, which was a handful of times, I had to knock on the window to let them now I was there,” said Dayton. “That was one of the reasons I stopped going there.”

Though, despite the cracks in the Pine Rock Avenue sidewalk, Dayton is content with Southern and is glad he transferred here.

“It needs a little work, but the thing about it too is especially coming from a person that’s lived his whole life with a disability. You bump into these things along the way but you also learn to adapt,” said Dayton.

Dayton was born with a condition called spina bifida, where the spine in an infant fails to develop and the spinal column does not close all of the way. Every day, about eight babies born in the United States have spina bifida, or a similar birth defect of the brain and spine, according to SpinaBifidaAssociation.org.

“You might run into an issue but I’ve learned to say ‘alright, this isn’t working this way, how can I do it another way?’” said Dayton. “If I run into something like that around Southern, I’ll make it work somehow.”

Photo Credit: Staff Photo

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