Standing Room Only

A ban has been placed and strictly enforced over the past year restricting students from sitting on the floor and the stairs in Henderson Hall.

Every few feet, signs have been placed instructing students of the dangers that await them and others if they are to sit on the floor or stairs.

Laminated purple signs plastered up and down the halls of the building at floor-sitting level read, “Due to safety issues, you are not permitted to sit on the floor or the stairs.”

The ban on obtrusive hallway seating has been in place since Fall Semester 2012 when Linda Fisk, an administrative associate for the English department, witnessed an incident involving a blind man tripping and falling over the legs of people sitting on the floor.

After Fisk saw the blind man fall, she knew something had to be done to help something like this from happening again.

“We have blind people, people in wheelchairs and faculty and staff with health issues that have problems moving their feet,” said Fisk.

Fisk then talked to the University lawyer and Disability Services where it was decided that signs could be put up to keep people from tripping passers-by.

“If they get hurt, who is liable?” said Fisk. “Signs went up that day.”

Director of Disability Services Chester Goad said that it is Disability Services that is in charge of keeping accessible routes through hallways in accordance with federal guidelines.

“We can’t say ‘no one can sit here’ but we do have the right to make buildings abide by accessibility routes,” said Goad.

Goad said that Henderson Hall is the only building on campus that enforces such strict rules about the accessibility routes.

Fisk is still active in enforcing the rule in Henderson Hall. If she sees anyone sitting on the floor or stairs, she promptly asks them to get up and move.

“I walk through the building every class period,” said Fisk. “I wish the students were cooperative.”

Fisk said she isn’t always greeted by understanding reactions to her requests. Fisk said most students are belligerent and rude when asked to move out of the way for a person with disabilities.

“For example,” Fisk said,  “four girls were sitting on the floor and a teacher’s service dog couldn’t get through.”

Another time, a disabled U.S. veteran student confronted a group of students after they refused to make way for him to continue down the hall. Fisk said that campus police were called to the scene of the dispute.

Goad said that last year alone there were five disrespectful disability issues reported to his office concerning Henderson Hall.

“People have used common sense in the past,” said Goad. “The events came to a head last semester and the police had to be called. Issues had to be addressed. These actions are by a very small segment of Tech’s students, most students are awesome and respectful.”

Students can find it irritating to not be able to sit while waiting for their classes.

“It’s hard to get studying done before class when I can’t sit,” said freshman Ashley Nandarsy as she waited for her class a full fifty minutes early on Tuesday.

“I sat on the floor and was yelled at by a cleaning lady. ‘Don’t you see the signs?’ she asked me rudely,” Nandarsy said. “Every other building seems fine. This just seems Nazi-ish.”

Some students have ideas about how to solve the hall clutter.

“I don’t understand why we can’t sit on the floor,” said sophomore Shelby Gregory. “They should probably have a lobby or benches for people to sit at. It takes up the whole hallway anyway.”

Fisk said she reminds students that room 312 in Henderson Hall has a couch and a table for students to sit and work at while they wait for classes.

“They can go to the library or they can have their homework done before class,” Fisk additionally said. “Students can stand up as long as we can get through.”