Student makes symbolic statement about on-campus facilities

Joel Caruso, a senior, had something very serious on his mind and decided on Wednesday to do something about it.

“Most of the buildings are so old, and though the school tries to make them handicap accessible, most of them aren’t,” he said. “I know there are a couple that are. Academic Building One is by far the best, and the Forensics building, also, because they have numerous ramps and automatic doors.”

Though Caruso has noticed many of the efforts the school has made, he has also noticed that some of the accommodations for handicapped or disabled students are not entirely practical.

“At the art buildings, handicapped students have to go through the back doors in order to get in. They still can get inside, it’s just difficult,” he said. “Also, some of the room have occupancy levels in brail, but they’re not at the right level. Some of them are above the doors. It’s not going to be an effective means of assistance for anyone unless they’re seven feet tall.”

Caruso’s realization that a lot of the facilities are “off” lead him to make a statement about the situation in his own way.

“I just kind of felt bad, and so I did a chalk drawing of a handicapped symbol on the front steps of the art department. My medium is art, it’s the only way I can say something. It’s just a symbol, I’m not hurting anybody’s feelings, I just wanted to make a statement,” he said. “School is for everyone, and it would be nice if it was available for everyone, not just the people that can walk, by making it handicap accessible.”

Caruso noted that even with the current accommodations, a growing student body would eventually require increased effort to help students out that are disabled in any respect.

“If it’s difficult for you to get in and out of a building, you are in a way disabled by definition,” he said. “If we’re going to keep growing as a student body, it’s going to happen that we’re going to have more students with disabilities.”

Though the idea crossed his mind that drawing the symbol might result in disciplinary action, his message was not intended to relay any disrespect to the school or anyone affiliated with it.

“I hope the school just responds by making an effort to make plans to make all of the buildings more accessible a priority,” he said.

Caruso put a lot of thought into how to make the message stand out and make it look effective.

“I thought about doing a tear, but I just drew a handicap symbol in order to keep the message direct,” he said. “It’s pretty neat, you can see it from the parking lot.”

Whatever happens after the symbol is noticed and talked about, Caruso still partially views the experience simply as a chance to express himself through art.

“I hope it all works out, because I had fun doing it,” he said. “Whenever you do an art piece it’s a lot of fun, especially when you enjoy what you’re doing.”

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