Student Services Building

Kevin Jones handles equipment and medicine as the University Health Services stores clerk. He frequently reminisces about his past while working with equipment.
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

The R&B sounds of Barry White and Marvin Gaye echo from a desk in the medical supply room of the Student Services Building. Doctors file in and out to grab their lab coats. Vendors walk through to drop off new equipment. A Baltimore accent reverberates through the halls of the basement. Kevin Jones, a stores clerk at University Health Services, spends his days in the basement of the Student Services Building. Jones is responsible for organizing the medical equipment that keeps the place running.

“We’re the internal organs of UHS,” Jones said.

Prior to working at UT, Jones attended college in Germany and joined the army. He handled medical supplies and repaired parts for vehicles and weapons. The army stationed him in Texas in 1985. He settled in Austin, got a job at UT and worked as a member of the reserves until retiring from military work in 2005. He’s lived in Austin ever since. 

But Jones loves to travel. And when he can’t — whether he’s replacing batteries in equipment or marking expiration dates on medical products — Jones is always taking mental trips down memory lane. 

On Mondays, he’s in Maryland, touring the nation’s capital, exploring the Smithsonian or fishing with his dad. 

On Tuesdays, he’s in Tennessee, sitting at Memphis’ Blues City Café, eating soul food and listening to B.B. King. 

Then, on Wednesdays, he works his way down to Atlanta. He passes the day walking the streets where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. grew up. 

Thursdays come around, and he’s back in Texas, roaming around the Johnson Space Center in Houston. 

By Fridays, he’s back in Austin, ready to be lazy “like a house cat on the floor.” 

“That’s how I get through my work week,” Jones said. “I enjoy life because if you have eyes to see and ears to hear, you are blessed.” 

Sathiya Ramdoss, a PhD candidate in special education, works on a Close Circuit Television (CCTV) in the Assisting Technology Lab Wednesday afternoon. The CCTV is used by visually impaired students to magnify the print in books and papers.

Photo Credit: Pearce Murphy | Daily Texan Staff

When Jennifer Applegate purchases her books for the coming semester, she brings the texts to the Student Services Building, where they are stripped from their binding and fed into a scanner. Applegate doesn’t hate books — she is legally blind, and this process enables her to access her assignments through screen-reading software.

Applegate, an English senior, is one of 42 students with visual impairments registered with Services for Students with Disabilities, according to disabilities services coordinator Emily Shryock. Other students might be visually impaired, but they choose to work individually with professors and not use the accommodations the University provides.

“The only way we can track the numbers is if [students] choose to self-disclose their disability and register with our office,” Shryock said. “Some students are able to work individually with professors and may not need to use the accommodations or support offered by our office.”

Craig High, the coordinator of assistive technology in the Services for Students with Disabilities office, said he feels the office is successful because it responds to the demands of students.

“We’re 100 percent consumer-driven,” High said. “I’m here to support the students, so I try to mirror whatever strategies they’re already using.” 

High said oftentimes, by the time a blind student enters college, the student has already determined successful study methods. 

“When we see students, they’re already pretty much an expert, and they already know what works for them,” High said. “My job is to keep my pulse on what students are using at home and try to get those technologies in place here.”

Applegate said she feels the University is generally committed to increasing accessibility for blind students.

“Textbooks from the Co-op get back to me really quickly, although PDF documents can be really slow,” Applegate said. “But in general, the University is really good about being inclusive and diverse — whenever there are stairs, there will also be a ramp.”

Still, Applegate said, there are ways in which the University does not accommodate blind students. She cited Waggener Hall, which does not have signs posted in braille. Earlier this year, Applegate mistakenly entered a men’s restroom in the building as a result.

“I didn’t realize what had happened until I heard men’s voices, and I tried to leave as fast as I could,” Applegate said. “That wasn’t fun.”

Applegate said she contacted Student Services about the incident, but has not had time to follow up on getting braille installed.

“I’ve been swamped with schoolwork, and I know it’s an old building, so [the administration] probably thought it wasn’t a big deal,” Applegate said. “I know it’s a big project.”

UHS offers free STI testing for students

UT students can get free STI testing today in the Student Services Building.

Until 4:00 today, the University Health Center will be testing as many students as it can in the Glenn Maloney Room in the Student Services Building. Matt Haviland, the president of Texas Public Health, said last time the UHS had free STI testing, it was able to test 250 students. Haviland said he is hoping they can test as many today.

“Its really important help wise for sexually active adults to get tested once a year,” Haviland said. “It’s not invasive, it just takes a couple of minutes, and it is not going to get you sick. There is really no downside.”

Haviland said that it is beneficial for those who have sexually transmitted infections to get treated early on. Students will be tested today for gonorrhea, Chlamydia, syphilis and HIV.

Haviland said this would be the last day this fall students could get free STI testing on campus. Usually, there is a small charge.

It is the busy season for Sylvia Holmes in the Legal Services for Students center — and that is how she likes it.

Holmes, a part-time attorney at the center, said appointments are booked for two weeks. Located on the Student Services Building’s fourth floor, the center offers free legal services, including representation, and advice for any UT student involved in almost any civil or criminal case. Last year, the office saw 1,404 students.

Holmes said one of the first things she does when she sees a student is calm him or her down. Normally, she says she sees students who are terrified with white knuckles. Holmes said since it is the beginning of the year, she advises many students regarding landlord and tenant disputes, underage drinking and traffic tickets.

“Getting a regular speeding ticket is the most frightening experience some of these students have ever gone through,” Holmes said. “These are students who have never been in trouble for any reason. To be accused of any crime is scary.”

Twenty-four percent of students the center sees are graduate students, 39 percent are seniors and nine percent are freshmen. Holmes said many students will spend their first few years at UT unaware of the free services they offer, so they tend to see more upperclassmen.

Although the center has shrunk recently from four full-time attorneys to two full-time attorneys and one part-time attorney, Holmes said they still manage to see a lot of students.

Holmes said the center sees a good portion of international students because they are unfamiliar with the U.S. legal system. Last year, nine percent of the students the center saw were international.

“Texas has done a good job as painting themselves as ‘tough on crime,’” Holmes said. “And that image scares the hell out of a lot of our students.”

After calming students down, Holmes said she educates students on what might happen with their case. She said this is her favorite part of the job.

“Not only do I explain how to handle the situation, but I tell students what do to do in the future,” Holmes said. “I always like when a student can go and argue a case from the right position as opposed to an emotional side.”

Every student who enters the office is given a handbook that provides answers to frequently asked questions. Holmes said she also prints out flowcharts that explain the legal process to students.

“Laws don’t change very often in Texas, so this is probably a good handbook to have for the next five years,” Holmes said, adding that the handbook is also available online.

Holmes said in some instances she will advise students to just pay their fines via mail, for example a parking ticket. In other instances, she will advise students to go down to the court and ask for a decreased fee.

Holmes said explaining they are students and that they visited the center will earn respect from judges.

Holmes said the center is open to reading and reviewing leasing contracts before students sign. Whenever students have disagreements with their landlords, Holmes said she tells students their first step is to send a mailed letter of compliant. If that letter is ignored, she says students can start pursuing a lawsuit.

“We see some landlords who, in my opinion, just should not be landlords,” Holmes said. “We get some landlords who are just flat out wrong and they just lie.”

UT alumnus Benjamin Wagman said while attending the University he had trouble getting his security deposit back from his landlord and called the center. Although Wagman did not follow up with his claim, he said the center’s advice was helpful.

“I had no idea what to do,” Wagman said. “If you don’t know how the legal system works, just five minutes of advice can save you tons of time and money.”

Students who need to seek legal counsel can schedule an appointment either online, over the phone or in person in room 4.104 of the Student Services Building. Even when the center is booked, Holmes said the center is open to emergencies.

Printed on Monday, October 1, 2012 as: Legal center offers advice, opens doors for students

With the high temperatures lasting into the fall, it may not feel like the flu season is fast approaching. But University Health Services is taking precautionary measures against the virus through a campaign to distribute vaccines to students and faculty during the coming weeks.

The UHS Flu Shot Campaign begins today at the Student Services Building in room G1.310 from noon to 4 p.m. The campaign will continue to offer the vaccine in various locations around campus until Oct. 20. The full list of dates and locations can be found on the UHS website.

The flu shot is available for free to all students and faculty who present their UT ID and a health insurance card, not including Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare or HMO plans. The shot costs $10 for those without health insurance.

Senior UHS coordinator Sherry Bell said the flu is more serious than students usually realize and stressed the correlation between contracting the virus and decreased academic performance.

Bell said almost 20 percent of respondents said they have suffered a negative academic impact in the last 12 months because of a cold, the flu or sore throats, according to a 2010 campus health assessment survey.

She said providing a flu shot campaign is central to UHS’s purpose of promoting a healthy environment on campus.

“Campus is, by nature, crowded, so it makes it much easier to pick up viruses that cause cold and flu,” Bell said.

Bell said the University is prepared to distribute 10,000 vaccines during this year’s campaign and said last year’s immunizations totaled 9,028. Bell also said misguided fears of the vaccine causing a person to get the flu are nothing to worry about.

“The vaccine doesn’t have the ability to cause the flu,” Bell said. “The virus in the vaccine is dead.”

Uninsured and under-insured Austinites can also receive free flu shots provided by the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department at participating clinics.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone six months and older should get the vaccine each year as soon as it becomes available. According to their statistics, the number of influenza related deaths for the past 30 years ranged from 3,300 to 49,000 per year.

Radio-television-film sophomore Fabian Fernandez said he is choosing to opt out of this years flu shot campaign.

“I don’t think vaccines actually work so my friends joke that I’m into the conspiracies about them,” Fernandez said. “I’ve never had the flu shot and I’ve also never had the flu so I won’t get one [this year].”

Sophomore Jacob Perez said that he has taken the flu shot in the past and plans to take it again this year.

“The vaccines are really convenient since they give them out all over campus,” Perez said. “If you have insurance, you might as well.”

Printed September 27, 2011 as: Flu shot campaign promotes vaccines for students with or without insurance