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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


The paradox of the paraplegic

The Charles B. Wang Center, above, ... FRANCIS YU/STATESMAN FILE
Architectural flaws in the Charles B. Wang Center make it unsuitable and inconvenient for handicapped students. FRANCIS YU/STATESMAN FILE

Being disabled comes with challenges – some obvious, and a few I’ve written about in the past. But situations where complaining can do you no good and you don’t have time to go on a crusade of justice are never discussed. For example, there is no handicap accessible entrance door to the brand new Starbucks in the basement of the library, in case you haven’t noticed. But today we’ll focus on the Wang Center, and how nice it would be if they were more conscientious of handicapped students, despite how difficult this may be.

This past Tuesday afternoon my friend and I went to the Wang Center for lunch at Jasmine. I rarely go to Jasmine, maybe once or twice a semester because mango lassi is just that good. What isn’t good is the layout. The narrow lines are the only way to order and pick up food and are very constricted and partially blocked by a wall. This causes extreme navigation difficulty in the cramped space for both the paraplegic and surrounding population. Nobody wants that. But, it’s an architectural flub in a restaurant without a lot of space, so we all collectively shrug it off.

Harder to shrug off was entering the Wang Center to find a printed note on the only elevator apologizing for the inconvenience and asking me to take the stairs. Declining the request, my friend and I searched for a secondary entrance and, finding none, went to East Side.

It sucks, but a hard truth about being disabled is that sometimes, due to nonchalant oversight by others, you’ll get screwed over. And sometimes, even if you could fix it, it’s just not worth it, and mango lassi just isn’t worth it.

These situations are hard to prepare for and react to. I think the reason is that one must realize that it’s ridiculous to expect the general population to be conscious and considerate of disabled people all the time. Putting yourself in that frame of mind is difficult. If you rarely speak to people with disabilities you’re unlikely to even consider when something you see or experience could be difficult for the mobility-impaired, much less point it out and try to change it.

The paradox of the paraplegic is that making such situations uncommon, and thus saving us the stress, would require a lifetime of labor and litigation to change the framework of education in architecture and civil engineering and ensure attention is paid to us. Either that, or hopefully through media like this, and in interaction with those around them, the general population will learn to consider the disabled without even being asked. I hope that’s the case. Until then, at least East Side has good burritos.

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    LaurelFeb 12, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Thank you for writing this and touching on a very important issue. I am disappointed that, given this is one of the few new buildings on campus, this is still such a blaring problem. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that the Wang Center is seriously behind, given that it is so behind on other important issues that Stony Brook allegedly cares about as well. Anybody see any recycling bins in Jasmine that house the dense plastic containers every food item is served in? Didn’t think so.

    Anyhow, thank you for making me think about things more differently. We shouldn’t stand for this as a student body and it is unacceptable this is still a problem on a campus like Stony Brook. It makes me also wonder about other new buildings, such as the Simon Center or Frey Hall. I’d be interested in an article about this as well. I will proudly claim Stony Brook as a one of the “greenest campuses” or “most accessible campuses” once they actually walk the talk.