Student says UM tends to needs

Nicky Saltzburg is one of about 10 students at the University of Miami who trek around campus in a wheelchair. .
The second year graduate student in counseling mental health has been physically disabled since she was born and is mobile only with the use of a wheelchair. But Saltzburg still manages to maintain a normal class schedule and social life at school.
“There are so many little inconveniences about being disabled,” Saltzburg says. “But UM is really good about supplying us with all the resources we need to have a regular college experience.” Saltzburg’s days are not all too different from anyone else’s: She even has to deal with parking problems.
“It really bothers me to see people with handicapped tags that obviously aren’t real, or aren’t necessary,” she said. “Parking is an issue for everyone and parking in spaces reserved for other people complicates the problem.”
Saltzburg said she also gets annoyed when students park in the hash marked areas by the handicapped spaces, which allow ample space to get out of their cars and into wheelchairs.
“If you leave the handicapped space empty, but park next to it, you might as well have parked in the space,” she said. “It’s worth nothing if you can’t get out of your car.”
Saltzburg has a manual wheelchair, as opposed to a motorized one, so she has to wheel herself wherever she goes.
“There is a way to get everywhere,” she said. “But it might be a roundabout way.”
For example, students walk from the Mahoney and Pearson Residential Colleges to the Merrick Building on a brick pathway that runs past the cafeteria and the business school.
Saltzburg, however, can’t take this path because of a set of five steps about halfway between the dorms and the Merrick Building.
This means she has to go in front of the Lowe Art Museum and around the Business School to get to class, often having to leave her friends who are walking on the path and don’t want, or can’t afford, to take the extra time to walk around.
Entrances to buildings are also difficult sometimes.
“Several buildings on campus are just old. The doorways were poorly designed and sometimes it’s hard to get through them. And you have to take chair lifts instead of elevators, which are not as reliable,” she said.
“The Cox science building is the worst! You have to switch elevators to get to different floors,” she said. Fortunately, no matter what the problem is, there is a solution to it.
“You just have allow more time to get places, that’s all.”
Saltzburg has not encountered any acts of prejudice against her during her time at UM, she said. However, she is treated differently than other students because of her disability.
“Professors go out of their way to ask if I have special needs, if what we are doing in class is acceptable considering my circumstances, etc. Everyone has been very willing to help,” she said.
But Saltzburg said she doesn’t need much help. That, she said, is because the people at the Office of Disability Services do their job well.
“They’re really great,” Saltzburg said. “If I have a problem getting to classes on time or getting to a particular room, they make sure my schedule is changed.”

February 8, 2002


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.