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Wintry weather presents different challenges for UNC students with disabilities

Logan Gin, a senior biology and political science major, said "Navigating UNC can be difficult in normal conditions, let alone in the snow."
Logan Gin, a senior biology and political science major, said "Navigating UNC can be difficult in normal conditions, let alone in the snow."

“There have been times when I stayed in Koury and Ram Village, where I was snowed in my dorm, and it was a nightmare getting out and getting around,” Corsi said.

Corsi, who has used a wheelchair since his junior year of high school, said that while he didn’t have much trouble getting around during this most recent snowfall, he has had trouble in the past and isn’t satisfied with UNC’s efforts.

“While they spend a lot of time clearing the roads and clearing the paths, they do a halfhearted job, especially when it comes to the curb cutouts,” Corsi said. “Especially if you use a manual chair, it’s sort of just like when you get stuck on ice, you just spin.”

Logan Gin, a senior who uses both a scooter and crutches to navigate campus, said his travel time was doubled as he made his way to the Smith Center for Sunday’s men’s basketball game against N.C. State due to icy conditions.

He said he and his friends sometimes talk about how they’re expected to go on like any other student in adverse conditions.

“We talk about it, in a way we sort of poke fun at how they expect us to still go on,” Gin said. “But at the same time, I know the University can only do so much with the resources that we have.”

Stephanie Berrier, spokesperson for Facilities Services, said in an email that, beginning Saturday, more than 140 staff members from grounds, building services, housekeeping and construction services worked to remove ice and snow from campus walkways and roadways through Wednesday.

“Due to extremely low temperatures, refreezing was an ongoing problem, but crews continued to work over the next several days to make sure that campus would be cleared and ready for the start of spring classes,” Berrier said.

Ashish Khanchandani is a co-chairperson of Best Buddies, an organization that pairs students with individuals in the community with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Khanchandani said it’s always important to keep the safety of those with disabilities in mind.

He said he observed that some ramps on less-traveled walkways weren’t cleared as quickly as major walkways.

“There’s accessibility features on most buildings at Carolina, and if those are not accessible to individuals with disabilities, then that’s useless,” Khanchandani said. “They focus on clearing major paths, and they need to focus on clearing minor ones, too.”

Berrier said Americans with Disabilities Act and ramp entrances were prioritized as work crews cleared campus. She said all these prioritized places were cleared by Tuesday afternoon.

Corsi said he appreciates help he’s gotten from friends when there’s snow outside.

“My first year, when campus was hit, if it weren’t for my friends, I wouldn’t have been eating food,” he said.

Gin said he’s had co-workers reach out, as well. He works as a resident advisor.

“The community director has reached out to me and asked if there are any paths in and around the community that need extra attention,” Gin said. “I completely understand the limitations, and it can be challenging, but there are people trying to do the best they can.”

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