Ithaca College removes all stairs from campus in response
Ithaca College announced yesterday that it will be getting rid of all stairs as a way of decreasing the amount effort students have to put into walking up and down.
This announcement comes after a three-month petition and strikes made by the students, led by junior biology major Kara Swartz. Swartz started the petition after she broke her leg falling down the stairs on her way to class one morning.
Her petition was met with hostility on the side of the administration, including Thomas Klein, vice president of student affairs. Klein claimed students need the exercise and there is not much they could do, as the college is situated on a hill.
Faculty and staff were supportive of Swartz and other students’ protests. Professors like Maya Nicols pointed out many faculty members have offices on the top floors of academic buildings, making it a hike to get to their office everyday.
After Klein’s statement, student outcry increased. Protests started and students demanded the school take action to get rid of stairs now. The protests accumulated in a student walkout on February 17, where Swartz and other students gave speeches on the dangers of stairs. As a part of the protest, students sat down in front of the stairs instead of using them. These protests made national news, lighting a fire under the administration to do something about the issue.
Construction is underway to replace the stairs with slides and escalators, as well as to add working elevators to every building on campus. While the construction is taking place, students are being required to use ladders to get up and down floors. Students seem to find the ladders more convenient and have used them to play practical jokes on the construction workers.
Senior Jason Miller expressed his excitement for the forthcoming escalators, saying he doesn’t always have the stamina or energy to get from the bottom of the hill to the top on a daily basis.
“Cornell has buses to get them everywhere, so why should we be forced to climb up a hill,” Miller said after the construction was announced.
Swartz has encouraged other colleges to take the path Ithaca College is on. She points out escalators and elevators are better for students who have asthma and those who might not be able to climb flights of stairs. She said she wants to make sure no student has to walk up stairs on crutches again, something she faced after she broke her leg.
No statement has been made about whether the college will increase the time between classes to accommodate the additional time it will take for students using escalators, but a response is expected in the next few weeks.
Christine McKinnie is a third-year emerging media major whose least favorite gym equipment is the StairMaster. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.