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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Apologies First, Suggestions Second

In December, I submitted a column about walking across the UMB Campus. In that column I made reference to the closing of the Campus Center doors. I suggested that the doors had been closed to save money on the heating. I was wrong!

I was informed, the day after the Mass Media published my opinion, that the doors were closed because they were broken. I am sorry for that assumption and ask that you forgive me for not doing the research and finding out what the real reason was for the closure. I was further informed that they would be fixed and opened by that Friday, December 19. The doors were opened on time.

About a week prior to classes beginning for the Spring semester I received an email from Carol DeSouza, the UMB Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance Officer, letting me and others know that the Campus Center doors have been closed until “[M]id April when mild temperatures are expected to return.” Ms. DeSouza said in her email that the information was posted on the “Community Front Page” of the UMB website. I personally wish to thank Ms. DeSouza for her diligence and persistence in providing information about such changes and I especially thank her for forwarding the information to those who may be affected more so that the general population of UMB.

However, I would like to pose a couple of questions. Why did the online post relating to the closing say, “We realize that closing the doors may present some challenges for the visually impaired?” Is not all of the University “challenged” by the closing of the doors? I understand that the visually impaired, myself included, made a fuss about the closing of the doors, but why single us out?

The other question that I have is, if you are singling out the visually impaired and providing them directions, why are they from the North and South parking lots? Does the University really want the blind driving to UMB? My friend, the one with the illiterate service animal, was very upset and got a meeting with Ellen O’Connor, Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance.

The meeting, in my opinion, went well. My friend expressed his frustration with an $80 million dollar building built just a few years ago that needs to have its doors closed to conserve heat. I asked questions about being singled out and the use of sighted people directions. David, my friend, was offered the chance to meet with thepeople who run the Campus Center and are responsible for its heatingand cooling. I was offered the opportunity to “screen” future postings that are directed to the visually impaired.

These problems were solved. But wait, there’s more.

I’m not really challenged by the door closings now that I am used to the new way of doing things. I’m challenged by the way things are decided and then disseminated to the UMB Community. We belong to a “Student Centered Urban Public University.” How did the University miss the opportunity to involve its students in conserving energy? We at UMB had an opportunity to show students a way to help keep heating costs for the Campus Center down, in turn keeping the costs of attending UMB down. Is there a student out there who wants to pay more? I should say I’ve not found one in the whole time that I have been attending. Nobody has come up to me and said, “Theo, I want to pay more for my education!”

If they had I would have suggested that they go to BU, or BC. They could get just as good an education there as they can here. This is a GREAT school. But there is a disconnect between the staff and the student. The faculty is wonderful. I have had professors who taught at Harvard, Northeastern, BU, and BC who left there and now teach here because this school allows them to connect with the students.

The students want to be part of the University community. It is difficult to form that close relationship with the institution because we are a commuter community. That is why the University must find ways to include all of us in our effort to band together. I know that every decision cannot be voted on by the entire community. But every decision can be looked at to ask: How can we involve the students and further their education with this decision? Imagine, if you will, the door closings being handled like this: In an effort to conserve energy we are closing some of the doors to the Campus Center. We hope that this will help us to overcome the budget cuts, and we feel that you the UMB community can help us to win this one. Here are some things that you can do:

* Wait for the Crystal busses inside the building away from the doors so that they do not continuously open and close.

*Wait for the students exiting the bus have filed in before you file out.

*Help others. Some of our community may have more difficulty navigating the new door patterns. If you see someone who seems to be struggling, offer some assistance.

I do not claim to have all of the answers. How I see it is that we belong to a University. This institution could and should educate us in every way possible, including in how to do our part.

When we leave this “Student Centered Urban Public University,” will we have been educated in a way that helps us to be human centered inclusion oriented citizens? I hope so!