SHSU under SGA scrutiny during Americans with Disabilities Act compliance investigation

The Sam Houston State University Student Government Association is investigating university’s alleged noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act on campus.

One Senator’s preliminary report indicated that out of the 13 buildings he investigated, White Hall, Thomason building, Dan Rather Communication Building, the Health and Kinesiology Center and Smith-Hutson building all allegedly had violations.

“In my investigation of buildings and other infrastructure around the SHSU campus, I searched for any problems in outdoor access that could… make it difficult for individuals who are unable to go over steps or stairs,” Sen. Matthew Maddox said. “All the buildings investigated were handicap accessible, in one way or another, with ramps and automated doors for outdoor access [where] handicap access was available.”

Maddox indicated that sidewalks on Bearkat Boulevard were an issue. According to Maddox’s report, the sidewalks between Estill Hall and the parking lot at the Student Health Center were difficult to navigate and were missing sections. He also said that he found a ramp under construction near Old Main Market and Estill Hall.

Issues were also found on the south side of campus. Maddox reported a missing section of sidewalk near the entrance to White Hall, forcing handicapped individuals into the parking lot to access the building from the sidewalk.

On Bobby K. Marks Drive near Raven Village was another missing section of sidewalk.

“The sheer slope after the discontinued sidewalk is dangerous for normal pedestrians and impossible for (handicapped people) without going around through Avenue I,” Maddox said.

Maddox said that Thomason’s hallways were difficult to navigate during its busy hours between classes.

Some of the restroom doors on the second floor of Thomason were difficult to open, and some restrooms failed to indicate they were handicap accessible.

According to Maddox, the restrooms in the Health and Kinesiology Center were difficult to open but in compliance. However, there were no handicap restroom facilities on the second floor. DRCB and Smith-Hutson both had compliant restrooms, but the restroom doors in the DRCB were hard to open. There was also no handicap restroom facility on the north side of Smith- Hutson’s third floor.

On the SHSU website is a map of ADA routes on campus. The map indicates “in certain areas these routes may not be entirely consistent with ADA grade due to the unique topography of the SHSU campus.”

University Affairs Chief Spencer Copeland said that this is possibly an exception to the rule.

“Since the typography of campus is so hilly, some things just aren’t feasible without demolishing campus, flatten, then rebuilding,” Copeland said. “So I can see where the regulations… may not be possible due to a hill. What we are looking at are areas where it can be done.”

SGA opened an investigation in October 2013 with at least 14 students seeking evidence and writing reports.

The Houstonian attempted to contact SHSU Facilities Management via email on Monday, Nov. 4, but was unable to get feedback by press time. A full report will be published on Friday.

Leave a Reply