by CALLIE HARKINS
Some students have been stealing bricks from various walkways on campus, leaving gaps on the brick paths that make them more difficult to navigate.
“This makes me worry about some of my other friends who have crutches due to an injury or require wheelchair assistance,” said senior business management major Kathryn Toigo. “We are not always paying attention when we are talking or rushing to class, and I would hate to see anyone get hurt.”
According to Office of Disability Resources Director Jessica Machado, tampering with walkways creates a dangerous situation for everyone. The creation of barriers like this impact the entire UMW community.
“This is certainly a hazard for individuals—with and without disabilities,” she said.
Machado said that damage to walkways disproportionately affects students with mobility issues and those who are visually impaired.
“These are the first individuals who come to mind who may be especially impacted—students with vision loss or mobility issues may struggle with walking safely as they would have more challenges with avoiding unsteady or uneven areas on their path,” she said.
The Facilities and Maintenance department has made efforts to mend the gaps by packing a mixture of dirt and gravel into the missing plots. After the initial removal, the University replaced the bricks, but those were eventually stolen as well.
New bricks have been added to pathways between Melchers Hall and the UMW Galleries throughout the past week.
According to a student who has stolen bricks, who spoke under the condition of anonymity due to the possibility of disciplinary action, taking bricks began as a joke spurred by frustrations towards continuous maintenance issues on campus, like the air conditioning issues in Combs Hall.
“Honestly, at first we just did it to see if we could do it,” they said. “Somebody made a joke about how everything seems to be broken. … It seems like there’s so many things that are broken or in need of repair on campus, and I guess we were just sick of it,” they said. “Some of the dorms here are disgusting and it’s hot and uncomfortable in a few of my classes.”
Other students believe brick stealing is harmful.
“Stealing from the middle of the path is just rude, especially to people using mobility devices,” said senior studio art major Ella Schultz.
Machado believes impeding walkways greatly harms the community and goes against the ASPIRE values.
“I hope that by raising attention to this issue, people can realize that this act is causing a danger to many people in our community to simply get around campus safely,” she said. “For people who may already have difficulties with navigating our campus, I hope that we can make sure we are holding each other accountable to do the right thing so that we can build the inclusive environment that we all deserve to feel safe, valued, seen, and supported.”
The student who stole bricks said they likely would not steal bricks again.
“I’m not sure whether or not we’d do it again,” they said. “Probably not if I’m being honest. It was funny at first, but it’s kind of getting old now.”
Molly Gard contributed to reporting for this article.