Put an Elevator in McKay Hall
Put an Elevator in McKay Hall
When I was accepted into the University of Tampa, I was overjoyed. When I was placed in McKay Hall with fellow honors students who seemed genuinely excited to meet and get to know me, I felt that same brand of acceptance, happiness, and excitement. Recently recovering from spinal surgery, however, I was nervous about being placed on the second floor of McKay Hall – one of two residence halls to lack an elevator. I knew that McKay was an old building, but given that it had just been completely renovated in 2015, I was surprised and confused to learn that it was not equipped with an elevator. President Vaughn himself promised that when completed, “McKay Hall will be on the same caliber as other recently completed halls.” Evidently, this promise was not realized to its full extent, as every other resident hall, save for the Boathouse (which is no longer in use), is furnished with an elevator. However, I knew if I was able to conquer this difficulty, I could consider myself “healed.” So, I raised nary a complaint and went through with it.
For the past few weeks, I have lugged myself, my walker, and my school supplies up two flights of stairs to reach my room – I can genuinely say it has made me stronger, but it isn’t right. If the University of Tampa is a school that prides itself on diversity, it needs to make the necessary accommodations for students whose diversity lies in physical setbacks instead of simply reaping the rewards of branding themselves as being diverse. First-year honors students who suffer from any sort of physical setback – whether this be an ongoing condition or something as simple as a sprained ankle – should be able to benefit from the sense of community that I found in McKay Hall. Not only that, but abled students would be able to benefit from the elevators as well.
Furthermore, according to Title III of the ADA, while elevators are not required in facilities under 3 stories or with fewer than 3,000 square feet per floor, as McKay Hall is roughly 40,000 square feet (according to my conversation with Facilities) the University should be held accountable for providing an elevator in order to comply with the ADA.
I can honestly say my college experience would have been irrevocably altered had I not been placed in McKay Hall, specifically on the second floor – where I have found life-long friends and made so many indelible memories – and so while I know my time here is fast coming to an end, I want those who fill the rooms here at McKay after me to be able to enjoy these privileges without having to worry if they’ll be able to get to their homes at the end of the night. I also want these students to be told ahead of time that McKay Hall does not come with an elevator, as no where on the school's website or admissions page is this disclosed.
I want to stress that I still have such immense pride for my school. I love it here in Tampa and I appreciate the school’s commitment to modernization and acceptance, which is why I have even entertained the idea of making a petition in the first place. I have grown in so many ways thanks to the faculty and students here, but I still wholeheartedly believe that non-abled honors students should not have to compromise their living conditions because they didn’t take the time to fully renovate McKay. Assuming that an elevator is a luxury and not a right completely erases non-abled people from the narrative and only widens the gap between isolation and acceptance.