Lincoln and Douglas need elevators


By Kathryn Minniti

“Walking up five flights of stairs everyday always makes me so tired,” said Steven Libert, a freshman undecided major and a resident of B5 in Lincoln Hall.

This is true, but he never seemed to realize that some people don’t even have the ability to walk up the stairs.

Everyone should think about how they would get to their room if an incident would occur. Housing and Dining especially should think about this because many people are active in accident-prone activities. For example, Darryl Lowrance, who plays women’s rugby, said she was concerned about the lack of elevators in her hall as well.

“I live on the fifth floor of my residential hall, which is completely inaccessible to wheelchairs,” she said. “There are neither elevators nor are there ramps, resulting in grave difficulty for going to and from my classes and especially my room.”

The NIU Guidepost states “it is important to create a welcoming environment for all,” but I do not think climbing 72 stairs to your room on the fifth floor is a welcoming environment for the handicapped.

Dave LaBanc, director of Residential Facilities and Operations, answered some of my questions regarding wheelchair accessibility. He said people with any sort of disability should contact the Center for Access-Ability Resources for help.

But if students need to get to class or their room, what should they do? He responded, “The elevators in Neptune, Grant and Stevenson allow the students to come and go as needed.”

True, but it does not help Douglas and Lincoln students to get to their rooms, nor does it help them get to the few classes that are in the residence halls. He said Lincoln is “wheelchair friendly” due to the ramps at the main entrance.

I wonder if there is a way for our dorm community to help those in need and the only thing I can imagine is a pulley system. LaBanc noted, “These buildings were constructed before the Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA] was signed into law.”

ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, and public accommodation, among other things.

So why should Douglas and Lincoln not get them? There is clearly enough room in the wall that is right in the stairwell for one elevator. Even if there is only one, we need to consider the fact that some people cannot hike up these annoying stairs every day.

LaBanc said Douglas and Lincoln Hall will not get elevators because of the amount of construction involved.

“No, if we were to install elevators, we would have to install four of them so that the entire building would be accessible,” LeBanc said. “Additionally, installing elevators would require significant changes to the core of the building that would most likely necessitate the closing of each wing while its elevator was being installed.”

And if I break my leg?

He said, “We have a room on the first floor of Lincoln and Douglas administratively closed for this reason. If a students cannot get to their room because of a documented medical necessity, we can temporarily place them in the space on the first floor.”

Well, I hope in this case the student has some good friends who are willing to transfer their stuff from the fifth floor to the first floor.

Even though Lincoln and Douglas Hall were built before ADA was signed, I still believe NIU is responsible for getting elevators. It is frustrating to think that some students will not be able to get to their rooms one day because they can not access them.

There are rooms designated for these types of situations but there many students that are active in Douglas and Lincoln. What if all the rooms are filled when another injury occurs? Now that student will have trouble not only to get to their classes but to their room as well.

I do not feel as if handicapped and injured students are being treated equally.

Over the summer, NIU should close down Lincoln and Douglas Hall and construct elevators.