Changes in store for RUC stairs after boy falls

After a summer away from campus, students were surprised to see caution tape on the railings of the spiral staircase in Roaden University Center when classes started last month.

The caution tape was put in place during the summer when a 2-year-old boy fell through the bars of the railing after an event held in the RUC. The child was briefly knocked unconscious by the fall from the second floor to the first floor.

The university is planning on adding one of two barriers to the railings as a preventative measure to keep such accidents from happening again, as well as to comply with building codes, which have changed since the RUC was built.

“There’s nothing wrong with the railing,” said Jack Butler, associate vice president of facilities. “The spacing is just too wide for current code.”

Current building codes state that the railing supports must not be wide enough for a 4-inch sphere to pass through them, according to Thompson Fabricating LLC.

Tech officials are currently deciding between a set of thin cables and a gray Plexiglas barrier. The university has not had a chance to update the railings since the code was changed.

“That’s one of the things when you have an aged campus,” said Butler. “When things are built in a certain time, and they’re built to code, and then they change the codes.”

The two choices for the remodel are partially installed in the first floor of the RUC so students and faculty can see what they look like.

Tech faculty will likely decide which barrier to use within two weeks; though it is likely the cables will be chosen over the Plexiglas.

The cables are unlikely to change the appearance of the stairs, and are slightly more cost-effective than the Plexiglas.

Soon after a decision is made, a local contractor will begin work on installing the new barrier.

Once the renovations have started, students can be assured the construction will not interrupt foot traffic on the stairs.

The improvements to the stairs should be finished within two months.