Students overuse activation button


J’Mari HughesReporter

Some physical disabilities may be obvious like being in a wheelchair but others, not so much. I do not have the knowledge to look at someone and know for sure what their body is or is not capable of. Therefore, when I watch a seemingly able-bodied person use the activation button, I cannot be quick to judge whether or not they need it.

Doors leading in and out of buildings at Southern are equipped with technology that opens them simply with the push of a button. The button is blue and reads “Press to operate door” with that generic wheelchair logo in plain sight. Nearby, one can find a sticker that says, “Use power button only when needed,” and reminds students to save energy and the planet.

Whether to hold open doors while large crowds pass through at once or even when single students are walking through the door alone, I wonder, have Southern students taken advantage of a convenience made solely for those who acquire it?

There are situations where it would make sense to use the button, even if one is not disabled. For example, if a person is carrying a load of things with both hands, or, as someone pointed out to me, if a pregnant woman is walking through.

But one could also argue that opening the door is “too much work” which is both laughable and not at all true. A few days ago, I saw a girl use the activation button, knowing very well she did not need it and when I asked her why she responded, “I was being lazy.”

As big groups of students walk through the door together, it takes only a second or two to hold it open for the person behind them. Some might say it is gross to touch the handle on the door because of the number of students whose hands graze it daily but despite this incredible invention called soap, the button is in fact touched by many students as well so using it wastes power and makes one’s hands dirty.

A study at Stanford’s Psychology Department concluded that 75% of people who use the activation button are not physically disabled. The more the buttons are used, the sooner they will wear down, as with any piece of
technology.

In other words, the buttons would last a lot longer if it were not for unnecessary usage.

They also cause the door to stay open longer than usual, which could release the amount of air or heat in the building. Northern Kentucky University said it lost 2 cents each time the button was clicked which, though it may seem small, adds up.

As Americans living in today’s world, technology is created to do almost everything for us, but that does not mean we should let it. My voice may not convince anyone any more than the stickers on the door windows do, but when it comes to automatic doors, I think they should only be used when needed.

Photo Credit: J’Mari Hughes

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