Students, teachers, and the UNA administration are aware of the concerns, but there is also a problem with students abusing handicap parking.
UNA has handicap spaces in each parking lot on campus to allow disabled students easier access to the school buildings, but are there enough to accommodate the students.
Sarah Emerson, Senate member of the SGA, said she thinks that there is a good number of handicap parking places at UNA.
“There are several in every parking lot on campus that make getting around easy and accessible for those students,” Emerson said.
Sarah Davis disagreed and said that there are not enough handicap spaces on campus.
“I really do think that there are too few handicapped spaces on campus,” Davis said. “I see a lot of people with handicap tags searching for parking, which shouldn’t be happening.”
Even though Davis said that disabled students should not be searching for parking, they are due to many people abusing handicap tags and parking spaces.
“A lot of students like to get their family members’ tags and use them,” Emerson said. “UNA police doesn’t check them all of the time so people abuse them.”
Emerson said that people abusing handicap parking takes away from the number of spots fro real disabled people.
Michael Bramlett, a UNA disabled student, said that he sees people abuse handicap parking all of the time.
“I know some people have to use them that don’t appear to have a physical disability, but it’s pretty easy to spot people who aren’t disabled,” Bramlett said.
Bramlett wants those who abuse the handicap parking to know how it is affecting him and other disabled students.
“I get how people think they aren’t hurting anyone, but it’s frustrating when I have to park so far away from where my classes are,” Bramlett said. “As much as I want to scream at some people sometimes, I just want people to know how much they put me through.”
“It really irks me,” Davis said. “I can’t imagine how frustrating it is for handicapped students.”
However, Bramlett knows exactly how hard it is when students abuse handicap parking.
“People drive fast in parking lots and don’t see me and get close to running me over, and days when it’s raining I get soaking wet and have to sit in class drenched in water,” Bramlett said. “I just want them to know what they put people like me through so they will think twice about parking where they aren’t supposed to.”
Bramlett said that he has talked to UNA Chief of Police Robert Pastula, as well as Mary Bowers and Lisa Reburn from the Disability Support Services.
“There isn’t much that they can do about the situation,” Bramlett said. “They can only give tickets to cars that do not have any tags or placards in a handicap spot.”
Pastula said that they have tried to enforce the rules, but they have done as much as they can.
“We do try to catch students who misuse handicapped tags, and have caught a few of them on campus, but it is hard to enforce because we cannot challenge someone about their handicap,” Pastula said.
Emerson said that the SGA is working on a possible solution to help all disabled students at UNA.
“One of our goals this year is to make UNA more ADA compliant, ” Emerson said. “This is something we want to see come to campus so that everyone can have a good experience at UNA, no matter who you are.”
Emerson said that it makes her upset when students abuse handicap parking.
“The spots are reserved for students with handicaps for a reason.”
Davis had a plan that would involve informing the students to make a change.
“I think more awareness for other students about handicapped students and their parking needs would be effective,” Davis said. “I just wish people had more respect for others and would think about who it affects when they park in handicap spaces.”
“If you or any of your friends see someone who you know is misusing a handicap tag, please let us know,” Pastula said.