Biannual Campus Safety Walk identifies structural, accessibility issues

As dusk began to fall, members of the NKU Student Government Association carefully examined the walkways, lighting, and handicap accessibility of Callahan Hall, Residential Village and main campus areas.

Accompanied by several administrators and an NKU student in a wheelchair, the group pinpointed potential safety hazards: including a trip hazard on a ramp outside Founders Hall, a lighting issue behind the science building and a deep depression located near the sand volleyball courts in the Residential Village while walking the campus on the evening of Oct. 28, 2013 during NKU’s biannual Campus Safety Walk.

Among the other problems discovered were a lack of handicap accessibility to the volleyball courts, a deep crack in the pavement outside of Norse Commons, several damaged curbs and a need for another emergency blue light call box to be installed along the paved walkway connecting Callahan Hall to campus.

A sidewalk located between Loch Norse and the Business Academic Center was also found to be just wide enough for one wheelchair to pass through the area. Sophomore Senator Kristian Johnson, an accounting and finance major and SGA’s university improvements chair, stated that the sidewalk may eventually be widened to better accommodate both foot and wheelchair traffic.

In the SGA report regarding this semester’s walk, Johnson also mentioned other ongoing problems not seen during the walk. Johnson presented photos indicating major flooding issues that occur near a sidewalk outside Callahan Hall during periods of heavy rain and spoke of the need for greater accessibility and All-card access to NKU’s recently acquired Northern Terrace building located next to Callahan Hall. He also mentioned the possibility of having a speed bump installed within the circle outside of Kentucky Hall and Norse Commons.

Johnson was pleased to announce that many of the structural problems found during the walk were fixed the next day.

“By Tuesday, a little over a third of the issues were fixed,” Johnson said. “Arnie Slaughter, Larry Blake, and others have done a fantastic job. I couldn’t ask for more of them. I feel very proud to have been a part of this walk.”

Blake, the assistant vice president for Facilities Management, confirmed that most of the issues brought to his attention were easily solved within a few days.

“Of about six items addressed, five of them have already been fixed,” Blake said. “One of these was some light bulbs that were out behind the science building. It turned out that this was because of fuse that had blown a few days ago.”

As an eight-year attendee of the walk, Blake believes it is beneficial but also encourages students to always be observant of issues on campus.

“If you see something, report it right away. Some issues shouldn’t have to wait to be discovered by a planned event such as this walk.”

Ben Anderson, director of disability services and a participant in the walk, was very pleased with the walk’s results and SGA’s concern for safety and handicap accessibility.

“I feel the students caught a number of things,” Anderson said. “I’m really impressed with how

enthusiastic the students were over safety issues.”

Anderson feels that NKU’s attention to accessibility is partially responsible for the high rating given to the university by The American Disabilities Act.

“NKU was named in “College Success for Students with Physical Disabilities” in 2012 as an ADA+ school, meaning that we go above and beyond the requirements given by the ADA,” Anderson said.

Anderson also said that the construction near Steely Library has been a challenge, but the university has done its best to make that area as accessible as possible. He also recalled several broken handicap buttons used to open doors being fixed immediately after the walk as well as at earlier points in the semester.

Issues not already fixed will continue to be discussed within SGA in hopes of making NKU as safe and accessible as possible.