Students have options for navigating campus while injured. 

 

For about a month, Lexie Redmond left her classes early, arrived to a few late and struggled to make her way up three flights of stairs to her dorm room in Scott Quad — all because of a stumble that happened in a matter of seconds. 

After falling and breaking her foot during her freshman year, Redmond, now a sophomore studying marine biology, spent about four weeks using crutches to make her way around campus.

“It was a lot harder getting around campus, especially with Morton Hill,” Redmond said. “When it rains, it’s super slippery and super hard to go up on crutches.”

Although Redmond was able to enter Scott Quad with ease, she said it was taxing to scale several flights of stairs while on crutches every day. 

“I’m really clumsy,” she said. “It sucked because … (Scott Quad) did not have handicap accessible anything.”

Scott Quad is one of several residence halls on campus without an elevator. Ohio University has 16 halls that offer Americans with Disabilities Act-mandated “medical rooms,” Pete Trentacoste, executive director of OU Housing and Residence Life, said in an email. There is an additional 13 halls that have elevators on campus, he added. 

When a student is temporarily disabled, they have several options for navigating campus and making it to classes on time, but not all students utilize the services or know that the services are even available.

Accommodations vary for a student who is injured, Carey Busch, the assistant dean of Student Accessibility Services, said, but students have the option of contacting the Campus Area Transportation Cutting Across Boundaries, or CATCAB, for transportation services. Students are able to discuss any further needs by making an appointment with an accessibility coordinator in Student Accessibility Services.

“If a student is injured (on or off campus) and has housing or transportation needs, we would encourage them to contact Transportation or Housing and Residence Life directly to coordinate short term needs,” Busch said in an email. “They should also talk with their faculty ASAP to notify them of their situation.”

Trentacoste said there have been instances when Residential Housing needed to provide an alternate living space for a student who was injured. He added that the move can be temporary or permanent depending on the student’s needs.

Navigating campus 

After being injured, students and faculty have the option of using CATCAB, which is a driving service used to assist someone with limited mobility. 

Redmond said she was unaware of the free CATCAB transportation system when she was injured.

“I should’ve used it,” she said. “It would’ve been a lot easier (getting around campus).”

CATCAB operates between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and does not operate on weekends or university holidays. Two CATCABs run during the weekday scheduled hours.

A free transportation service, CATS Late Night, can be utilized after CATCAB’s scheduled hours and is accessible to all OU students and faculty Monday through Friday between 5:30 p.m. and 2 a.m. and on Saturday between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.

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Kristen Lutz, the transportation operations coordinator at OU, said CATCAB is available to injured students who provide a doctor’s note and the roughly 100 people with permanent disabilities that are listed with Student Accessibility Services or the Office for Institutional Equity.

“We can give them a ride without a doctor’s note,” she said. “It’s kind of a one-time courtesy. We can take them to either Hudson Health Center or O’Bleness Hospital and that would be to obtain a doctor’s note.”

According to Lutz, approximately 60 people — excluding those with a permanent disability — are either using the service as of Spring Semester or have reached out to CATCAB about receiving rides.

Lutz added that no one is denied the service if the person meets the requirements.

Jordan Hess, a senior studying public safety management, has been a CATCAB driver for more than a year. Often, Hess said, drivers are responsible for taking people to classes and doctor’s appointments. She added that making a person feel accommodated and welcomed is part of her job.

“(With CATCAB services), they can make it to all their classes,” Hess said. “They don’t have to skip classes by any means and get behind in school. We’re there to help them, and we want them to know that.”

After Brady Steward injured his left ankle a few weeks ago and went to Hudson Health Center, he received CATCAB referral forms. Once he filled out the paperwork and sent the CATCAB office his schedule, he said he soon began using the service to make it to all of his classes.

“Instead of having to crutch however far it is to Copeland or Bentley (from Tanaka Hall), they’ll drive me there in two minutes which is better than a 20-minute crutch,” Steward, a freshman studying sport management, said.

The path less traveled

Stephanie Henty, a sophomore studying strategic communication, fell and injured her right ankle Jan. 10 — the day before Spring Semester classes. After immediately falling over when putting weight on her ankle the next morning, she went to O’Bleness and found out her sprained ankle would require her to be off her foot for a couple of weeks. 

“(Having to use crutches is) really hard, honestly,” Henty said. “I didn’t go to my first day of class because I only had one class, and my doctor told me I shouldn’t go. My next day of class, I have two classes in Morton, and it was like a blizzard outside. I couldn’t even see in front of me and I was on crutches. It was hard.”

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Henty said using crutches has added an extra 20 minutes to her daily routine, with her now wrapping her ankle each morning before class and being considerably slower on her feet. She added that certain pathways, such as the road near Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium and Morton Hill, are difficult to navigate while on crutches.

“I started using the ... elevator (in Glidden Hall) because I’d rather have it take a half hour to get there instead of almost falling again because that would be terrible,” she said.

When Steward initially injured his ankle, he thought the campus might be difficult to navigate but soon found the experience to be bearable. 

“It’s been a lot easier than I expected it to be,” he said. “With the CATCAB, it’s a lot easier and almost every building on campus (I use) has a handicap entrance, so I can just click a button and the doors will open for me. Most have elevators, so I don’t have to climb stairs.”

Before using CATCAB, Steward said the hills on campus made his traveling more difficult and time-consuming.

“It’s exhausting,” he said. “I’m in a T-shirt and it’s 30 degrees outside. It’s physically draining." 

Winter weather

Henty, who used crutches in the winter, said weather played a role in how accessible campus was. 

“If it wasn’t winter, I think it would be fine,” she said. “Because it’s so icy, it’s hard not to slip even if you aren’t on crutches. My crutches were sliding everywhere, so I pretty much had to walk on my foot to stabilize myself, so I wouldn’t fall again.”

Steve Wood, executive director for Facilities Management, said custodians in the dorms and academic buildings, grounds maintenance workers and equipment operators help to clear the snow and spread salt after a winter storm.

“We have a prioritization actually of roads, sidewalks — usually the sidewalks that get the first priority are ADA accessible ... routes as well as parking lots,” Wood said

Uptown residents and business owners are expected to take care of their sections of pavement after a snow storm, including shoveling the sidewalk and putting down salt, according to a previous Post report. Athens City Councilwoman Michele Papai, D-3rd Ward, said in a previous Post report that the city helps to clear some sidewalks, but it mostly focuses on routes to schools.

The Athens Municipal Code states that if the snow is not removed within four hours of the snowfall, residents and business owners may receive a fine of up to $150, according to a previous Post report.

Steward said he tried his best to avoid going out in bad weather and only left his dorm if it was absolutely necessary. He added that his friends got him food from the dining halls, and he tried his best to continue going about his life normally. 

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Henty added that when using crutches, it’s necessary to know what walkways are more problematic and to add extra time into one’s daily schedule.

“You definitely have to plan your day,” Henty said. “If someone is like, ‘Can you come here really quick?’ I’m like, ‘It’ll probably take me half an hour, but I’ll get there.’ It’s just time, honestly, and a nuisance.”

- Megan Henry contributed to this report

@liz_backo

eb823313@ohio.edu

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