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Column: Witnessing Taylor Residence Hall's inaccessibility firsthand

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A broken elevator in Taylor Hall is pictured on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023.

Ram Village 4, or Taylor Residence Hall, resides in the heart of South Campus. This on-campus apartment is part of the Ram Village Community, which offers the benefit of “privacy and comfortable living” – and nicely enough, fully furnished apartments. It is also within walking distance of the Dean Dome and Kenan-Flagler Business School, which objectively sounds like a fine place to immerse oneself during your Tar Heel experience.

So, I expected living at Taylor Hall to be just that. However, I was presented with a very different experience than other current residents may relate to.     

A few months into last semester, the Taylor Hall elevator began having consistent issues, ranging from stuck doors to cracked panels. On most days, the reason was unknown to me. 

At first, the out-of-service signs taped in front of the elevator control panel only increased my hopefulness about the elevator’s recovery, which I expected would be quick. 

This could not be further from the truth.

Unbeknownst to me, the out-of-order signs were telltale signs of a more significant issue, with more signs posted at a higher frequency. The signs suddenly varied from dark-colored to white paper with “Out of Order” handwritten or, some days, in Arial font. Now, being able to pick up on the different variations of the signs was a red flag.

I accepted walking up to the fifth floor on and off for the next couple of weeks, which would continue into the new semester. From then, simple tasks such as bringing up groceries, hauling luggage or doing laundry became a challenge, and traveling up and down five flights of stairs each time killed any motivation for spontaneous adventures. 

I learned a hard lesson once while bringing luggage back from my hometown, only to find that the elevator had broken down yet again without warning. There was no “oh crap” moment more defining than this one, but I managed to prevail with excessive sweating and severe feelings of regret. It made me want to pass out. 

By this point, my schedule revolved around the stairs, and I was in what felt like an unwanted, committed relationship when I highly preferred the elevator most days. The stairs aren’t that welcoming, either – they’re steep and allow less than two people to walk side-by-side (in other words, it’s very narrow). Sometimes it reeks of puke after a UNC Basketball game or is decorated with Cook Out fries leading up to your apartment door. 

Somedays, students will abandon large trash bins on the top of the stairs, leaving an accumulation of fruit flies to terrorize the hall's residents as the cherry on top. The smell of rotting fruit welcomed anyone who opened the staircase door, with the sight of vandalized exit signs barely hanging from the ceiling.

It got so bad that I, along with other residents, received a few jump scares from Carolina Housing in the form of emails, condemning residents aware of the vandalism culprits with a warning of thousand dollar fees turning up in your ConnectCarolina if they could not locate them. I’m unsure if this warning came to fruition, as vandalism of the exit signs has continued. I can probably count five exit signs on my floor that have been replaced only for them to be smashed again the next day.

Living at Taylor Residence Hall has offered me an exclusive experience that has proved to be nothing short of routine altering. There is good news, though, with a semi-happy ending. The fruit flies are gone, and the elevator is working again. Until it doesn’t. But I’m again blindly hoping that it stays that way.

Ultimately, however, there is a bigger problem at Taylor Residence Hall that goes beyond fruit flies and lugging groceries up the steps. It is unacceptable to dismiss the elevator problems plaguing the building because inaccessibility like this poses a serious challenge to residents who aren't able-bodied like myself. Other than the elevator, there is no other option to navigate the building for those requiring physical accommodations, such as a mobility scooter or wheelchair.

Taylor Hall's inaccessibility has created an insupportable way of living for students. It’s a big concern yet to be addressed directly and one the University needs to highlight and find solutions for immediately.

@dthopinion

opinion@dailytarheel.com

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