Commencement sparks concern for handicapped relatives

For some seniors, the announcement from the University that there would be three separate commencement ceremonies on May 15 in the Richard and Sheila Regan Fieldhouse and the Walsh Gymnasium sparked outrage. But the announcement has left others worrying about how their handicapped relatives will manage to get around.

According to University officials, there will be handicap accessible parking and seating in both the fieldhouse and gymnasium.

Students are worried about the number of handicap spaces on campus during the graduation ceremonies. Katherine Boland/Staff Photographer.

Although the University doesn’t know how many disabled attendees will need to be accommodated, plans have been made to provide access to those in need of assistance, according to Angela Millman, director of Disability Support Services (DSS). She added that usually there is a large number of grandparents and guests who may have difficulty with mobility.

“Accessible seating will be available in the Field House and on the floor of the Walsh Gymnasium. Accessible parking will also be available. Plans have not yet been finalized,” Millman said in an email interview.

As of now, no one has contacted DSS with concerns, Millman said.

Seton Hall commits itself to providing accessible commencement activities, according to Bernadette McVey, director of Academic Events, Initiatives and Planning.

“Examples of accommodations Seton Hall has provided for commencement include sign language interpreters, ramps to and from the stage, and wheelchair accessible seating,” McVey said in an email interview.

Along with providing accessible arrangements for handicapped attendees, there are a plethora of other factors that are included in commencement preparations, McVey said.

“There are many factors, from planning the procession, academic attire, lining up the students, ticketing for family and friends, technology, music, the dais party, setting the program itself and the list goes on,” McVey said.

Tarriya Carter, a senior English major, said that she is concerned about her 69-year-old grandmother who will be attending the ceremony. She said that when she discovered graduation would be held on campus, she immediately thought of her grandmother and the problem she may have with parking near the gym.

The parking garage across the street will be open, but the walk to the elevators can be difficult for those with handicaps.
“My grandma had polio when she was a kid so she can’t stand for long periods of time or walk for too long,” Carter said. “I’m nervous about her finding a parking space so she doesn’t have to walk too far.”

Carter also said that she is worried about how long her grandmother might have to wait in line to submit her ticket and finally find her seat.
“The gym isn’t really big so I’m sure the line just to get into the gym will be crazy,” Carter said.

Lauren Shea, a senior social and behavioral sciences major, said that she doesn’t have to worry about a handicapped relative, but she is concerned about the distance her 62-year-old father will have to walk once they park their car.

Shea said that her family is planning to park at her off-campus house on Irvington Ave., about half a mile away from the Ward Gate, because she fears there will be limited parking on campus and “because parking is always a problem here.”

“My dad’s on the older-side and if parking is an issue, how far will my family have to park in order to see me graduate?” she asked.

Shea said that she feels the “University cannot just assume everyone is capable of parking and walking far” and that the amount of handicap spots on campus will not be enough for all of the relatives that are coming.

Carter said that the University should reserve the first floor of the parking deck for handicapped people on the day of the ceremonies. She also said the University should create an alternate line for handicapped relatives who are entering the fieldhouse to get them seated faster.

Editor’s Note: Samantha Todd contributed to this article.

Ashley Turner can be reached at ashley.turner1@student.shu.edu.

Thomas Schwartz can be reached at thomas.schwartz@student.shu.edu.

Author: Thomas Schwartz

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