Two years ago, a graduate student with cerebral palsy fell out of his wheelchair, hit his head on the ground and suffered a mild concussion on his way to a final exam.
The circumstances that led to the injury came into play again last semester, when a USF golf cart blocked the sidewalk, forcing the student to travel through the grass.
University employees parked their cart in front of the sidewalk poles meant to restrict cart access.
When he had made a detour through the grass, the student fell out of his wheelchair and hit his head on the ground.
Raquel Peverini of the Diversity and Equal Opportunity Office – who handles issues involving disabled people on campus – said this situation is not unique.
During casual conversation with disabled students and faculty members, impeded accessibility by golf carts repeatedly comes up, she said.
Though this may be common on campus, such blockage violates USF policy.
University regulations specify that golf carts must have identification so that complaints can be registered. On both occasions the students, who wished not to be named, could not see this mandatory identification number, which is usually on the front fender.
“It wasn’t visible on the cart from where I was, and if I can get around the cart to see it, then what’s the point? I can just keep going,” he said.
The Department of Parking and Transportation considers these violations very serious, especially when they affect safety and Americans with Disabilities Act concerns, said Manuel Lopez, director of Parking and Transportation.
Peverini published a reminder in the Jan. 23 E-bulletin newsletter for USF faculty and staff asking USF employees to “refrain from parking the golf carts on the sidewalks” and to park in designated areas.
Ultimately, however, the graduate student who sustained a concussion is frustrated with what he described as the laziness of gold cart drivers.
Instead of using the parking lots or pulling off into the grass, they park horizontally across the sidewalk, right up against the poles, he said.
“It’s a matter of people just being lazy,” too lazy to park and walk the extra few feet, he said.
Report golf cart parking violations by calling 974-3990.