Students need stairs, not slopes

Editorial Board

Five inches of snow fell Friday night between 2 a.m. and 10 a.m., leaving the sidewalks of Kent State impassable.

Although snow removal crews labored to cut through the wintry deposit before the weekend, the areas around Tri-Towers and Eastway were left untouched, causing many to trod through ankle-deep snow. These conditions exist as a minor inconvenience to those desiring meals and snacks at Rosie’s in Tri-Towers and the cafeteria in Eastway.

But there are several students at the university to whom snow is a disabling reality. These students are those who use canes, crutches and wheelchairs — either temporarily or permanently. It is for these students as well as for anyone else who needs to travel about campus that the snow removal at Kent State must be improved.

Heather White, manager of the university Grounds Department, said when snow falls before a weekend, it is hard for the crews to keep up — especially because those employees who choose to come in on weekends work overtime. To have someone on call, waiting to plow or shovel, is a very expensive proposition.

“We’re doing everything with our resources to open and keep open this campus,” she said, noting there are between 17 and 19 miles of sidewalk and countless stairs. All staircases are hand shoveled.

The grounds department works closely with Student Disability Services, White said.

And it should.

Ryan McCrae, junior sociology major and resident of Centennial Court F, is a disabled student who faces difficulties when the sidewalks and ramps are not cleared. McCrae can walk with a cane, but does most of his traveling around campus to get to classes and food in a motorized wheelchair.

Last Saturday, McCrae said he tried to make the 100-yard journey from his residence hall to Rosie’s but found the sidewalks nonnegotiable. Luckily, his resident assistant went with him for food and volunteered to bring his lunch to him.

However, not every wheelchair-bound person has an RA and friend immediately available to help. Instead, many are limited to the friendly delivery men and women of the many surrounding pizza places — all, of course, at their own expense.

Of course, food isn’t the only concern for those in humbled circumstances — getting to class poses even further difficulties.

“A couple times last year I had to skip,” McCrae said. “For me, it’s do I want to take a chance of getting stuck? If I get stuck, I can’t get myself out. How important is it, really, to get there?”

Although Ryan’s professors have understood, it is unfortunate that the university’s poor snow removal should hinder him and others from procuring the education that brings them to this campus in the first place.

Everyone suffers when the snow is not removed from staircases and sidewalks, but is instead trodden down by hundreds of pairs of feet into what resembles a dangerous snow slope (the rear entrance of Bowman Hall serves as a fine example).

Ultimately, the university has a responsibility to clear the campus better, particularly around the residence halls and cafeterias on the weekend and everywhere during the week. Everyone deserves access to the food and education they’re paying for.


The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose members are listed to the left.