By Justin Smith
In what is at least inauspicious timing for the College, Canisius administration has confirmed that “late last week” a car was damaged by debris falling in Canisius’ maligned parking ramp. The Griffin can confirm seeing a car with chunks of debris covering the hood as well as the windshield, which was cracked.
Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Mangione spoke with The Griffin to shed more light on what is happening with the parking ramp in context of this latest blight.
“There was a Public Safety report indicating that […] a student reported damage to a car that was parked in the […] ramp,” said Dr. Mangione. The Griffin obtained the photograph of the car with debris on its hood Saturday morning, which matches the timeline of the report offered by Mangione.
The Griffin made attempts to discover the owner of the car in question and contact him or her, but as of yet those attempts were unsuccessful. However, Dr. Mangione did provide additional details concerning the Public Safety report, which stated that the car had been parked in the same spot from September 6 to September 10, and that the vehicle’s owner noticed and reported the damage on September 10 upon returning to the vehicle.
“Generally,” said Dr. Mangione, speaking about standard protocol for damage in the ramp, “students will file their own insurance claim with their insurance company when there’s damage to their car, whether it happens in the ramp or whether it happens in one of the surface lots.”
Dr. Mangione compared damage in this ramp to any sort of damage in any parking ramp. If a parked car was hit by another car, for example, it would be handled in the same way as a car being hit by falling debris. Dr. Mangione said that the College will “certainly work with individuals” who have difficulty filing damage reports through their insurance. She also added that the School “would want to be fair to students” in a situation like that, and when asked to elaborate, said that such occurrences would be handled on a “case-by-case basis.”
Although Mangione largely stuck to the School’s narrative that the initial decision to close the second floor of the ramp was due to issues of effectively using tuition money, the fact is that the ramp is quite literally and undeniably falling apart, and it seems clear from all accounts that safety was at least a major component in the initial decision to close the ramp’s second floor.
Still, Dr. Mangione cited a “review of the efficiency of the use of buildings and space on campus,” which she described as “ongoing,” as the primary reason for closing the ramp.
“The College as a whole over the last several years has been, for […] a variety of reasons, trying to become more efficient,” said Dr. Mangione. “As the number of students decreases, both undergraduate and graduate students, it’s important for the College to make sure that we’re efficiently using the dollars that students pay us for their tuition.”
Mangione made reference to the closing of buildings such as Wehle or certain residence hall spaces, but these buildings, unlike the parking ramp, have yet to lead to any known property damage. Dr. Mangione, after speaking about the financial reasons for the initial decision to close the second floor, did acknowledge a safety component exists as well.
“There certainly are, as President Hurley said, […] concerns about the ramp,” said Dr. Mangione.
However, Dr. Mangione was sure to elaborate on exactly what is and what is not a concern in the ramp.
“I think personal safety was not a concern in the ramp,” said Dr. Mangione. “As a building deteriorates, there’s concern about debris falling and surfaces crumbling, so we do have […] concern about that, but that really has more to do with the decision to remove the ramp entirely.”
Certainly, the ramp will come down sooner rather than later. President Hurley confirmed as much in his visit to the Senate last week. Less clear is why personal safety was not determined to be a concern in the ramp. The Griffin did attempt to reach out to the Associate Director of Facilities Management, but as of yet has received no reply.
Despite the initial decision to close the ramp’s second floor, despite confirmed reports of a damaged car in the ramp, and despite the clear pronouncement of the ramp’s need to be completely leveled sooner rather than later, Dr. Mangione was emphatic about the ramp being up to building code.
“We would not keep a building or facility open if it was not up to code,” said Dr. Mangione, “and that’s a decision that’s made by our Director of Facilities (Tom Ciminelli), because he works with the various groups that […] check for code-related issues in buildings on campus.”
Perhaps it’s simply bad timing for Canisius, but optically the situation is bad. To close the ramp, re-open it, and then immediately have a car damaged in it is likely to give many commuters cause for pause. The School has no crystal ball, and therefore no way of guaranteeing there will not be more damage in the future. Still, Dr. Mangione assured The Griffin that the School does share students’ concern and is working to prevent any more incidents.
“Whenever there’s damage to vehicles, there’s a concern,” said Dr. Mangione. “I think if anybody has a vehicle in the ramp and there’s damage, they should report it to Public Safety and report it to their insurance company, and we’ll continue […] regularly monitoring the condition of the ramp and taking–perhap–certain spaces off-line if there’s a need to do that.”
What seemed last week to be a story about miscommunication between administration and students has turned into potentially more. President Hurley’s August 30 e-mail stated that the College decided to re-open the ramp’s second floor “[a]fter hearing of the inconvenience” it caused. However, students should be diligent to ensure that this move of temporary convenience doesn’t lead to more long-term consequences.