UNC student in wheelchair gets trapped in 4th floor dorm when elevator breaks

Josh Chapin Image
Friday, March 11, 2022
Broken elevator traps UNC student in her dorm for days
Laura Saavedra says UNC needs to step up and fulfill its promises of safe and accessible student housing.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Laura Saavedra won't stop advocating until there is real change.

The first year student at UNC Chapel Hill, who is in a wheelchair, said she was stranded in her fourth floor dorm room when the elevator broke two weeks ago.

She shared video which shows paramedics slowly taking her down the stairs in Koury Hall. The elevator had been out for days--even though she was told it would be fixed in about an hour--and she needed to get to a doctor's appointment.

Eventually, she was moved across the street to a COVID isolation dorm; she's now back at Koury but on the second floor.

"I thought safe housing was a guaranteed right," she said. "That's what they say in their offer to students. I've asked for a ground floor constantly, even if it's not for this year."

The Charlotte native said she's had issues with accessibility at sporting events and around campus in the past but this was her breaking point.

"The commitment to safety and accessibility doesn't feel true to me when I've asked for something simple time and time again," she said. "I don't want any other student to have to go through what I've gone through, and so if that means I need to keep speaking out and putting pressure on the school, I will."

UNC said it cannot speak to any individual request for accommodations but they're committed to accessibility and to the safety of all students.

"We continue to work with students and key campus partners to examine processes, policies and procedures," according to a university spokesperson.

Statement from UNC:

"A safe and accessible campus is our priority, and we are committed to working through any accommodation requests or concerns that may arise. We encourage people with accessibility needs or concerns to reach out toAccessibility Resources and Service or Equal Opportunity and Compliance for additional information."