Student teams up with SGA for bench proposal

Jackson French

When he was confined to crutches for several days after receiving an injury at judo practice in late September, Covington senior Logan Eckler discovered the lack of benches at bus stops on campus can be a problem for students.

So he decided to do something about it, going before the Student Government Association to make his voice heard on Nov. 19.

Eckler said he had difficulty getting around campus while his leg was healing.

“In that amount of time, I realized that, you know, the bus system was kind of invaluable for people that have a hard time walking and getting around campus,” he said. “And while I was doing that, I made another discovery that not very many of the bus stops have benches or seats.”

He said during his time on crutches, he realized that this was also a problem for pregnant students and people with disabilities.

“I am familiar with some of the SGA senators, and they recommended that I bring it in front of the general council and that’s what I did,” Eckler said.

Though the main point of his proposal was the addition of benches at some of WKU’s most heavily-trafficked bus stops, such as the one in front of Gary Ransdell Hall and the one in the Valley, Eckler said his proposal also included installing more automatic doors around campus.

“There aren’t as many of those on campus as you might think,” he said. “I know I had a hard time with a few doors while I was trying to get around, and so that was one that I thought might be a secondary improvement.”

Eckler said he has also suggested making improvements to the university Americans with Disabilities Act service, a shuttle service that helps handicapped students get around campus.

“They really screen their applicants heavily so… people that aren’t in a serious situation generally aren’t allowed to take advantage of those services,” Eckler said.

Louisville junior Tyler Scaff, an SGA senator for Ogden College, said Eckler told him about his troubles and suggested Eckler bring a proposal to install benches at the bus stops before the SGA.

“We do represent the students at SGA, so I think it was very important that we get a student who has been there and experienced these issues,” he said.

Scaff said Eckler, while on crutches, would often have to stand at bus stops for about 15 minutes while he waited for the bus to pick him up.

“He actually asked me to stand on one foot for several minutes, and I found it to be extremely uncomfortable,” Scaff said. “I don’t know how he managed 15. I guess you got to do what you got to do.”

He also said Eckler was unable to use the ADA service because no one with a handicap lasting less than two weeks is considered eligible.

“A handicap is a handicap, regardless of whether or not it’s one week or two weeks or longer, and that was one of the issues he brought up,” Scaff said.

He said SGA approved the proposal to install bus stop benches, but measures to improve the ADA service and install more automatic doors were not included in the proposal.

“The addition of benches was considered to be the absolutely highest priority, and that passed unanimously,” Scaff said.

He said SGA is still interested in passing proposals for Eckler’s other ideas, and they are currently working on drafting proposals for improvements to the ADA service and installing more automatic doors.

Even though SGA passed the proposal in support of benches at bus stops, SGA has no power to make the benches a reality. That depends on Parking and Transportation Services and whether or not they determine the creation of the benches would be possible.

Stephen Rowland, transportation manager at Parking and Transportation Services, said PTS is willing to work with SGA on the proposal.

“Since I’ve been here… it’s been a priority of mine to establish benches and shelters,” he said. “And since that time, we’ve had a large growth in shelters.”

Rowland said there are more shelters than benches because shelters provide more protection from the weather.

“Where we’ve had the opportunity to put a shelter, we’ve done that,” he said.

Rowland said PTS has worked with SGA before and is happy to work with them again. He said PTS plans to pursue the proposal, but must determine where to put the benches and find the money needed to construct them.