Accessible Stall Out of Order for Nearly Two Weeks

Facilities Management uses plastic wrap as a way of “securing the toilet” before they have a chance to unclog or repair the toilet. Photo by Hanna Yorke.

The toilet in the women’s accessible stall in the Leatherby Libraries basement restroom was out of order for 12 days, sending a rank odor into the hallways.

The clogged toilet was wrapped in plastic from Friday, February 1st until late afternoon on Tuesday, February 12th, a day after a Prowl reporter spoke to Facilities Management workers. A person with physical disabilities needing a restroom would have been forced to trek across campus in search of another accessible restroom.

“Being in crutches, it is already hard for me to get to my class in Wilkinson Hall since there is no elevator available in the building,” said Hannah Teves, a senior English major. “Finding out that the bathroom for disabled people is broken would make me even more stressed,” if she had need to use the restroom, she said.

The broken toilet could have caused disabled students to be late for class, Teves pointed out.

“Ten minutes is not enough time for me to walk to my next class in crutches, so I’m always late,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to be late for class just because I had to find another bathroom to use.”

The smell coming from the feces in the broken toilet was so pungent that even able-bodied woman did not want to use the bathroom.

“The smell stunk up the entire bathroom. I felt gross being in there,” said Kaia Whitney, a freshman Broadcast Journalism major.

Facilities Management received a complaint about the toilet in their custodial report the morning after finding it to be clogged, according to Rick Turner, Associate Vice President of Facilities Management.

“While I do not have the information on when it was reported, it was only reported one time and our process outlines it to be repaired on the next shift following the report,” Turner said.

“This method of securing the toilet is done by our custodial staff followed by reporting it to their shift supervisor who in turn will notify Facilities Management,” Turner said.

“We just do as we’re told,” said a Facilities Management worker who asked to not have her name used in fear of putting her job in jeopardy. “They said to cover the toilet up with plastic wrap.”

Guidelines set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensure equal access to public facilities and services to people with disabilities. Accessible bathrooms have design requirements, such as grab bars, rotating space, and toilet access, needed by people with disabilities.

With the toilet in the library basement out of order, women with mobility impairments would need to take the elevator upstairs in search of another accessible bathroom on-campus.

The Disability Services office was unaware of any problems with the accessible bathroom stall, said Jason McAlexander, Director of Disability Services at Chapman University.

“Every now and then someone will report to us an accessibility issue,” McAlexander said. “We immediately submit a work request. Sometimes I will inspect the problem first in order to make a proper work request.”

McAlexander said he has seen Facilities Management react very quickly to requests in the past. “The impact on individuals can vary greatly since different people’s mobility issues vary greatly,” McAlexander said.

“The faster Facilities gets knowledge of a problem, the faster it can be remedied. Staff and faculty should know how to submit a work request. If a student identifies a problem, have them report it to a staff or faculty member,” McAlexander said.

“We must rely on both Chapman staff and members of the Chapman family to make us aware of issues so we can make repairs in a timely manner,” Turner said.

Hanna Yorke and Tiffany Chen

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