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A spirit that is not afraid

OPINION | Lack of handrails at Jordan-Hare leaves some students at risk

I have spent my whole life in Alabama.

Football is ingrained in the culture, but every week when other students get psyched about an upcoming game, I get nervous. 

It’s not about who will win or the parties that may happen after; it’s about the process of making it through the game unscathed myself. 

I was born with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, and while it’s something I don’t have to think about in everyday life, the steps of Jordan-Hare Stadium bring my worries and little insecurities to the front of my mind. 

Auburn’s football stadium has no regular handrails, so my natural lack of balance puts me at a higher risk for injury when sitting in the student section. 

If I don’t want to have to worry about it, I can always find a place in the only handicapped area for students, but then I wouldn’t be able to sit with my friends and have that quintessential “student experience.” 

So, naturally, I choose to make myself suffer. 

I drink less water so I won’t have to get up to go to the bathroom. I sit next to people who will hold my hand if I need it on the stairs. I sit on the end so I can see when everyone is standing and stand as long as I can. I stand until I feel significant pain. 

This fall, I am focusing almost every Saturday on not adding myself to the fall count.

As student after student fell up and down the stairs on their way in and out of the bleachers, I started counting. 

The count rose to an alarming 18 people before halftime. 

Why doesn’t Auburn’s football stadium provide handrails for its students? 

I am not a math major, but I know it would not cost as much to install thin handrails as it did to install the $3.5 million jumbotron sitting on the south side of the stadium.

It wouldn’t cost nearly as much as the $4.7 million that is paid to Auburn’s coaching staff every year. 

I came to Auburn hoping that I would have a fun — yet safe — college experience.

Watching football should be a part of that experience that every Auburn student can enjoy. 

Right now, without adequate handrails in Jordan-Hare stadium, I am having to focus on an anxiety that I shouldn’t have to. 

Mary Elizabeth Lane is a freshman at Auburn University.

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