Emergency readiness inequity for the disabled
By Diane Carter
The college has a mission statement which requires all teachers, counselors and administrators to support individual success, while closing equity and achievement gaps.
This mission statement is the core of the Disabled Student Services Program (DSPS). Pursuant to federal and state law, the college is required to serve students who personally request educational help if they have a certified disability documented by a doctor, psychologist or other licensed professional.
Disabilities can include mobility issues, partial or complete hearing losses, partial or complete vision impairments or speech problems such as stuttering.
Learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities and mental health issues may also be grounds for certification to DSPS. Medical conditions such as diabetes, seizure disorders and cardiac limitations may constitute possible grounds on which a student may present documentation and ask for educational assistance as well.
This issue of The Guardsman is all about determining whether or not Ocean Campus is in need of additional changes to guarantee safety for all students which includes making the campus accessible for those students who have mobility issues or other disabilities.
Students with mobility issues deserve and are guaranteed specific help, especially in emergency situations such as earthquakes, bomb scares or fires.
We live in volatile times; the college should reevaluate procedures for all students during emergencies, but more so for disabled students.
Classrooms should have an emergency manual which the teacher or another responsible person can access in the event of an emergency. Most of the classroom have such a manual, however, there are exceptions to this rule. I urge all faculty and students to check and make sure the emergency manual is available in their classroom.
Every instructor needs to review general emergency procedures for students in every class. I have attended a several City College classes where no mention of emergency procedure was discussed.
Though the college website has a page devoted to what to do in emergencies, it should not be assumed our students have either visited this website or are completely knowledgeable about emergency procedures on campus.
Students with canes, wheel chairs and scooters find driving and parking with a disabled person parking permits challenging. The college needs to have various disabled student parking spaces repainted so the spaces and the wheelchair icons are clearly visible. A repainting of the road is also necessary around Cloud Circle near the cafeteria, the bookstore, the library and further down toward the area where cars come down the hill from the science building.
One student parked in a poorly marked disabled space, got out of his car and nearly tripped over a speed bump directly next to the parking spot. Neither the disabled icon, the lines for the car nor the speed bump were sufficiently visible. Also, placement of a speed bump next to a disabled parking space is a public safety hazard which could easily be corrected by making the bump visible with new yellow paint.
Another public safety hazard is the rough pavement in the lower parking lots below the George M. Rush stadium. I have mobility issues but am not a part of the DSPS, and I have almost tripped on uneven rocky pavement in the specified parking lots.
This can be corrected by repaving the entire two parking lots by the bungalows.
I also note deep indentations in the wood walkways along the bungalows which are possible hazards for disabled students who drag their feet and legs as they walk. The wood indentations are large and could constitute a tripping hazard. Wood putty could be applied to the cracked indentations to smooth the surface.
Some disabled students who have classes on the third floor of the MUB Building complain if the elevator were to go out of service in an emergency, they would be unable to use the stairs. If Evacu-Track Chairs, an emergency evacuation device for stairwells, are not available to assist evacuation of disabled persons, especially from the MUB building, they need to be made so.
I have been told the elevator on the north side of the Multi Use Building (MUB) has a backup generator to keep it operational in the event of an emergency, such as a fire. That same elevator is clearly marked with a medical emergency logo, so I think engineers, building maintenance and security may have determined the backup elevator would be sufficient to evacuate wheelchair-bound students in the event of a fire on the upper two floors of the MUB building.
According to the sign at the bottom of the elevator on the north side of the MUB building, the elevator has a firefighter’s operation key. This allows the firefighters to recall elevators with a fire key and turn it on to emergency power which is available from a backup generator. Backup generators can be powered by propane, gas or portable battery So, if the grid from Pacific Gas and Electric is down, the backup generator operates the elevator at the north end of the MUB building.
Additionally, it looks like the end doors on the north side of the MUB building are heavy-metal, fireproof doors, which would most likely provide some barrier and give time for fire safety personnel to rescue disabled people. In any event, if all of the new technology backup generators and fire recall keys are not available, the old Evacu-Track chair is still necessary to safeguard failures of the newer systems. After all, there was a major power outage which forced a closure of the MUB building for several days in Spring 2017, and the college website still directs students to assist disabled people to get to the location where an Evacu-Track chair is located.
Another public safety hazard is the failure of City College janitorial service to keep classroom tables clean. In one class, students cleaned the table tops in Room 160 when they had sticky and greasy dirt on them. Failure to keep desktops clean can breed germs and cause health problems. There can be students at the campus with compromised immune systems requiring clean tables.
Finally, there is a temperature control problem with the air conditioning system at various locations around City College’s Ocean Campus. These problems need to be fixed to provide a comfortable learning environment for each classroom and student.
If you see other general problems which could potentially cause safety concerns for yourself or for other students, you are encouraged to contact Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities Linda da Silva at firstname.lastname@example.org and to report any campus safety concern you identify that could be corrected or repaired.
Since da Silva is currently on administrative leave, and it is unknown who is currently filling the position, it may also be prudent to contact Head of Buildings and Grounds Kenneth Dang at email@example.com.