By Alison Northcott
Students came to register and pay for classes this week, but were faced with a shortage of space to line up due to construction in Jorgenson Hall’s main lobby.
A walled-in barricade now stands where the escalators used to be and has forced students to navigate narrow pathways in order to get to other parts of the school.
The Jorgenson Hall escalators heading from the first floor to the third, which could no longer be repaired, were removed and will be replaced with stairs.
In the meantime, students needing to get upstairs will have to use the existing stairwells or the elevators until the spring when construction finishes.
For most students, the barricade is simple a frustration or a nuisance. But for students with disabilities, it is a bigger problem.
Somona Gupta is physically disabled and in a wheelchair. She graduated from Ryerson’s fashion program last spring and is returning to the school this semester as a continuing education student.
During her four years at Ryerson, her mother accompanied her to school every day to help her get around campus.
She says the malfunctioning escalators and the current space-limiting construction in Jorgenson Hall will further limit her ability to navigate on campus.
“That’s going to be a big barrier for many,” Gupta says. “Especially for people in big scooters and wheelchairs. I don’t see how they can get around.”
She says the malfunctioning escalators have been a problem for her over the years because it caused an increase in unnecessary traffic on the elevators when students were unwilling to walk up the narrow escalator stairs.
“The elevator, I think, is being overused by people who don’t need it. And it’s always breaking down,” she says. “It’s frustrating. Very frustrating because the sign says priority is supposed to be given to the disabled.”
RyeSAC President Ken Marsiniec anticipates that with the escalators under construction, there will be an influx of people using the elevators rather than the stairwells. He says Ryerson should make some adjustments in order to accommodate more elevator users.
“There are three elevators on the north end of Jorgenson Hall, but one of them is an express elevator that only stops on the fifth floor and up,” Marciniec says. “I think it would be really good if they take that restriction off because my guess is that the elevators will be used more.”
Second-year nutrition student Karen Hill has been frustrated by the malfunctioning escalators all year.
She says she would be glad to see them taken out and replaced by a wide staircase.
However, she thinks the timing of the construction is poor.
“I think it’s going to be really crowded [when classes start]. It’s an eyesore and I think it’s really taking up a lot of space in the busiest part of the school,” Hill says.
“And now with people lining up to register for classes, there’s not going to be any room to get by with those walls up.”