Scarce Handicap Seating in the UNF Arena

Hannah Lee, News Editor


Video by Carly Kramer

The Arena is the Nest of UNF. Students sit together in one section, and cheer as they enjoy the games. However, some students don’t get to sit with their fellow Ospreys and have to sit alone because of their disability. Sophomore Jaden Coates posted on Facebook during a men’s basketball game on Jan. 24 complaining about being put in a corner at the game.


Coates said a security guard came up to her at the game, and told her she couldn’t sit where she was in the student section because there was no space. When she asked where she could sit, he replied she could be put in a corner.

“When I had turned around to leave where the student section was, he ended up taking my chair and I could feel him pushing on the handles and for a person in a wheelchair, you’re not supposed to do that if you do not know the person,” Coates said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this person is like touching me, and it’s weird.’ I was frustrated about that. Frustrated about being put in a corner. It was just annoying.”

Coates isn’t the only student who is dissatisfied with the accessibility seating at the Arena. Cassidey Vauloner, a special needs advocacy senior, said she felt like she couldn’t enjoy the games with the rest of her peers whenever she went to the Arena.

“I kind of felt like I was in the way of people,” said Vauloner. “Tripping over people and that’s just not safe for me and for the person.”

Vauloner stated she hasn’t been to any of the games in a while due to the way she was treated. She suggested the Arena should change.

“Maybe get more handicap seating, where you can get around people and be with your friends instead of upstairs, and alone… with nobody,” stated Vauloner.

Senior Associate Athletic Director of Facilities & Operations Ervin Lewis stated he was not aware of these incidents. Lewis stated he is always accommodating, and if there ever was an issue with security students should ask to speak to whoever is in charge, which is him.

“What I’ve had students do in the past, who have had somewhat unpleasant experiences, is I would have them come over prior to a game,” Lewis said.“I would walk through and show them exactly where they would be sitting or where they would like to sit, and go ahead and make that accommodations beforehand.”

Lewis stated the people in the S.A.F.E. security team change daily, so the individuals in the security team may not understand the UNF Arena rules and standards when it comes to accessibility for students.

Lewis did state during bigger games such as the River City Rumble against Jacksonville University, students who need accessible seating should go upstairs for safety reasons.

Students who can leave their wheelchairs can have a S.A.F.E. member move their wheelchair underneath the bleachers, and the student can sit in the stands until after the game. Students who can’t leave their wheelchairs can sit in the corner of the bleachers, and watch the game next to the students. The only exception is the corner coming in from the student entrance due to the band and the small walkthrough, according to Lewis.

There is designated handicap seating on the second floor. However, there are no signs within the Arena. There is no designated area on the first floor, but Lewis recommends students talk to him in order to figure out proper accommodations.

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