UNA Handicap Parking Being Abused

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.



Utilizing the Center of Writing Excellence at UNA

The UNA Center of Writing Excellence began on a volunteer basis in 2004. In 2006 and 2007, the center developed into a hired and trained peer tutor writing center with Dr. Robert T. Koch as the official director.

According to the writing center’s website, the goal of the writing center is in three parts.

First, they want “to provide all UNA students with instruction and writing resources.” Second, they seek “to provide UNA faculty with teaching resource support and professional development opportunities in Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) and Writing in the Disciplines (WID).” Third, they want “to facilitate and develop community-oriented programs in writing, reading, and writing-as-critical thinking.”

According to the writing center website, a sequence of three visits is recommended. The first visit allows the student to start the assignment. The second visit is for revision and feedback. The last visit gives the student help with editing and style problems.

Hannah Summers, a UNA student, has been a writing center consultant for three semesters.

She said that the three-visit sequence helps her as a consultant to know the student and what they need to work on so that when they come in she is better prepared to help them.

Summers said that first time clients usually do not know what to expect.

“We’re just here to help you,” Summers said.

The director of the writing center, since 2007, Robert Koch, encourages every student to utilize the writing center.

“Writing is a critical skill after you graduate,” Koch said.

Koch said that the writing center can be very effective if students come with “real expectations and a desire to learn.”

The writing center is staffed by 14 student writing consultants from sophomore through graduate grade levels.

According to the writing center website, each writing consultant is encouraged to take a training course that lasts a semester.

Koch said that the consultants meet regularly for updates, staff meetings, and observations.

The writing center’s website also offers resources for students. There are power point presentations and documents on writing, researching, plagiarism, MLA, APA, Chicago, and APSA styles and many more.

All of the programs and services associated with the writing center are free to all UNA students, faculty, and staff.

The writing center’s website offers anonymous quick testimonials.

“I love the Writing Center! Thanks for having it available for the students!”

“I am continuously learning how to improve my writing. The tutors are amazing.”

Student Safety at UNA

With the numerous crimes that have occurred on the UNA campus this semester, many students may choose to transfer from UNA for the fear that they may not be safe.

According to the UNA Police Department’s crime logs, there have been 24 crimes that have occurred just this semester. Eleven of them have been thefts, and six were a mixture of public intoxication, minor in possession and DUI. Three were for harassment, and one for criminal mischief.  Among the more serious crimes were an assault, a sexual assault and a terrorist threat.

Chief of Police Robert Pastula said that what may have gotten everyone so worried about the amount of crime lately was due to the two major crimes that happened recently: a rape and a terrorist threat.

“There is nothing to worry about,” Pastula said. “We have a good suspect in mind (with the terrorist threat).”

the amount of crimes at UNA compared to the University of Alabama Hunstville is just under half of UNA’s crimes.

“(The number of crimes at UNA) is nothing compared to other schools,” said Pastula.

UAH’s crime logs show almost double the amount of crimes than there have been at UNA. Since August 2012, there have been 43 crimes. only 10 of them were theft crimes. the other crimes consisted of criminal mischief, drug charges and duty upon striking an unattended vehicle.

Matthew Hattaway, a UNA student, said that he does not feel safe at UNA.

“If I am going to invest in a school for my education, one of the things I would like to be sure about is that I am safe,” Hattaway said.

“There’s nothing to be scared of,” Pastula said. “(Crime is) on a downward trend.”

Last year from August to the beginning of October, there were only slightly more crimes totaling to 32.

Sarah Emerson, a UNA student, is happy with the measures that the administration and police department are taking to ensure the safety of students.

“They are looking into cameras for the parking deck, setting up classes for self-defense and educating students on crime prevention,” Emerson said. “They are doing the best they can.”

Emerson is taking some extra precautions.

“I already carry pepper spray, walk with a friend at night and I’m looking into a self-defense class,” Emerson said. “Crime or no crime, UNA was perfect for me.”

Adequate Parking at UNA?

Parking issues at UNA are well-known by students, teachers, and even Robert Pastula, the chief of police, said that we definitely do have a problem with parking at UNA.

In the 2011-2012 academic year, 7,268 students attended UNA. In September of 2012, there were approximately 1,962 spaces for students to park. Even accounting for the portion of students who get to school alternatively and do not solely park at on- and off-campus lots, there is still a substantial amount of students who may not be able to find parking.

Students have 1,492 spaces on campus to park and around 470 spaces in the off-campus lots: Darby and the Florence garage.

The 329 teachers and 543 staff have to struggle with limited parking. They share a total of 364 spaces on campus.

Robert Koch, an English professor, Director of the Center for Writing Excellence, and Director of the Academic Success Center, admits that he has to occasionally park at an off-campus lot to find parking for school.

For students who do not live close to Florence, they have to leave extra early to find a spot and get to class on time.

Sarah Davis commutes one hour one-way every day to attend classes.

“That’s why I think parking is so awful,” she said. “I have to leave two hours early so I can search for a spot.”

Students who live closer to Florence still have to get to school early.

Matthew Hattaway, a commuter from Sheffield, said “I have to get here an hour and a half before my first class to be sure that I get parking.”

“The parking situation is a disaster; we have to scramble for parking,” he said.

Residents do not necessarily have as much of a problem during school hours as others because they are already there, but there are still issues. “Even as an on-campus student, the prime parking spots are hard to get,” said Sarah Emerson, a dorm resident.

Even though some students may think that parking off campus and riding the bus is inconvenient, the buses only take 15 to 20 minutes between the school and the off-campus lots.

Pastula said that parking off campus is “more convenient” because the students do not waste time driving around to find parking.

“It’s all about time management,” Pastula said. “They have to plan ahead.” He said that this issue with parking is teaching students to learn time management and helping prepare them for after graduation when entering the workforce.

So far Koch said that the parking situation has not caused a problem in the classroom. He said that interruptions happen every now and then, but they can still get things done.

Although 90 spaces were taken away for the construction of the new building, 77 new spaces will be available soon

“I understand that they’re trying to remedy the situation, but I feel like they are doing it during the worst possible time,” Davis said.