UW-Milwaukee’s Transportation Subcommittee listened during a recent Tuesday meeting as controversial Milwaukee lawyer and now UWM student, Alan Eisenberg, requested improved handicap parking and accessibility on campus.
Head of Facilities Planning and Management, Geoff Hurtado, introduced Eisenberg as the meeting’s guest. Eisenberg contacted Hurtado after several failed attempts to gain the attention of the campus’s maintenance department. Hurtado invited Eisenberg to speak at the meeting on Tuesday.
A silence fell over Engelmann 242 as the Milwaukee-famous lawyer slowly entered and took a seat. Eisenberg set aside a wooden cane that helps him to do what he describes as the most painful thing he does while at UWM – walk.
He spoke to the Transportation Subcommittee regarding his and other handicapped students’ difficulties in finding free handicap parking and safe, accessible handicap doors. Hurtado responded by promising a recommendation for parking improvements to the Parking Department. The subcommittee made no other immediate actions at the meeting in response to other handicap accessibility issues pointed out by Eisenberg.
Eisenberg outlined three aspects of handicap accessibility that he finds to be in need of attention: Building accessibility, a lack of maintained stairway railings, and metered parking for the handicapped. Eisenberg, who currently audits UWM courses, vividly described numerous instances in which he was injured or inconvenienced by a lack of attention to handicap door buttons.
In one instance, Eisenberg claims to have been pinned between a door and a post due to a faulty handicap door, at which point another student rushed to free him. He described the experience as “totally abusive and humiliating.”
Eisenberg also addressed a parking issue that he claims to have personally afflicted him. Handicapped UWM students who park at UWM are unable to obtain passes for spaces on campus and must pay for metered parking.
“I find this totally objectionable,” said Eisenberg.
He mentioned that such a requirement might be difficult to fulfill for those who have trouble walking from campus to their car several times per day. To Eisenberg, this presents an unnecessary make-or-break challenge to handicap students.
“If you want to ban someone like me from attending here, that’s fine. But that’s what you have here, defacto,” said Eisenberg regarding the challenges he and other handicap students face at UWM.
He further explained his challenges with handicap parking on campus by reliving an experience in which he approached a student worker. The student had been assigned to ticket cars in a UWM handicap parking lot that were not paid on their respective meters. Eisenberg said, in response to the student’s assignment, “What a great source of revenue – gouge the handicapped.”
Other complaints regarding handicap accessibility included consistently defective handicap door buttons, an unresponsive maintenance staff, and rusty or splintering handrails.
Rob Yeo, Faculty Member and Film Department Chairman, attended the meeting on Tuesday and listened to Eisenberg’s testimony. According to Yeo, Eisenberg’s concerns deserve attention.
“As a longtime public figure, Mr. Eisenberg is known to many in Milwaukee, but the only pertinent context is that he was present at the meeting as a student with concerns about physical access for disabled individuals,” said Yeo when asked about the validity of the Eisenberg’s complaints. “I believe that the subcommittee was open to Mr. Eisenberg’s concerns and will determine appropriate responses and actions to each of his suggestions.
Hurtado agreed that the subcommittee took Eisenberg’s concerns seriously, despite the lawyer’s colorful history in Milwaukee.
“We will have a recommendation at the next meeting,” said Hurtado.
At this meeting scheduled for Wednesday, November 6, Hurtado will bring Eisenberg’s handicap parking concerns to the attention of the Parking Department.