CSI Faculty Member With Disabilities is Blocked From Car in the Cold
By: Lucia Rossi
Galati’s vehicle, the red van, is blocked by a CSI employee’s car on campus. Credit: Peter Galati
Very often on campus, students can be seen creating their own makeshift parking spots, perhaps out of desperation.
Apparently, faculty members do this as well.
People who are guilty should know it is often illegal, and if it is over blue grid lines next to handicap spaces– it is debilitating to drivers with disabilities.
Peter Galati, a faculty member who uses a wheelchair for mobility, has experienced this inconvenience on four to five occasions on campus since 2013.
One memorable incident took place on February 13, 2016, where Galati returned to parking lot 2 at approximately 6:30pm and found that he was unable to get back into his car. Because another vehicle illegally parked over the no-parking grid line, there was no room to open his ramp out of the sidedoor of the car to get him inside.
“Unlike other times when this happened to me, I was alone and the campus offices were closed,” Galati said.
After checking 1A, no public safety officers were found, so Galati called his coworkers to see if any were still on campus.
Another faculty member, Victor Miller, agreed to come to Galati’s rescue in lot 1, but due to traffic on the loop road, he took nearly 40 minutes to drive there from lot 4.
Galati resorted to calling public safety and after speaking to the dispatcher, they arrived a few minutes later, at approximately 7:30pm.
An officer took down the report and noticed that the car in question had a faculty/staff decal sticker.
Enduring an hour of being in the cold, Galati was ready to go home.
“I was pretty frustrated after being stranded because a fellow employee couldn’t follow the parking rules, and although I appreciated the focus on trying to resolve the situation in the moment, I wanted to make sure that the driver faced some kind of punishment so that they wouldn’t do this again,” said Galati.
The officer took down the license plate and said that she “would notify parking services to come issue a summons”.
Satisfied with the justice served, Miller pulled out Galati’s car and he went home.
However, the next morning, Galati followed up with public safety.
“I followed up with parking services to verify that the summons was issued and they seemed unaware of the incident and said it did not appear that a summons was issued. I asked for one to be, and explained that I had photos, but was told that a summons could not be retroactively issued,” he said.
“They took down the plate number and indicated that they would ‘see if it was possible’ to reach out to the driver and ‘talk to them about this incident,’but I’m not certain that ever happened.”
Galati was then referred to public safety faculty member, Donna Rosendorf, who also spoke with Robert Yurman, to which they decided that if Galati notified public safety of where he parks and his schedule, they would do their best to patrol the area and prevent this from happening again.
“Although this is a very generous offer, it’s unfair to both me, disabled drivers, and public safety,” Galati said.
“I have mixed feelings about how public safety handled this. On the one hand, I greatly appreciate their focus on solving the incident in the moment and their later offer to patrol the area near my car in an effort to try and prevent future occurrences, but I’m disappointed that the ball was dropped and that nothing was done regarding the driver in question.”
At this point, Galati’s goal is to prevent this from happening to himself and other people with disabilities by raising awareness and encouraging students to make reports.
“It’s important for the campus to know, because it impacts the lives of the disabled population on campus. It impacts their ability to come and go as other members of the community do, and because its preventable,” he said.
Although it may seem extreme, Galati debated if having a vehicle towed would be an appropriate action. A ticket may send a message, but it doesn’t provide a solution in a dire situation, like the one he experienced at night.
He acknowledged that he was lucky to have someone move his car for him, but other people may not be so lucky, especially if they have a different type of car created for people with disabilities.
“We all face the struggle of parking and the frustration of not finding a spot, and many people may not be aware that parking in places, like the wheelchair grids, can seriously hamper someone else’s ability to utilize the spot,” Galati said.
“So, I think education and awareness are primary. I think part of this may be the postage of additional signage in front of the grids indicating that they are no parking zones.”