Broken elevator drives student in wheelchair to quit private Edmonton college

Sara Montgomery Taug, who signed up for a dental office administration program at Reeves College's downtown Edmonton campus, dropped out of the program because she uses a wheelchair and the school's elevator was unreliable.

'We are pushing building management to address this immediately,' Reeves College responds in a statement

Sara Montgomery Taug lost part of her right leg to cancer in 2015. She now uses a wheelchair. She signed up for a dental office administration program at Reeves College in Edmonton, but dropped out because an elevator she needed at the school was faulty. (Sara Montgomery/Facebook)

An amputee who lost most of her right leg to cancer dropped out of a private career college in Edmonton this week because of her concerns a faulty elevator would prevent her from attending classes.

After being a cancer patient for three years, 21-year-old Sara Montgomery Taug was eager to go back to school and start a nine-month dental office administration program at Reeves College in downtown Edmonton.

But a dysfunctional elevator came between her and that goal, leading her to withdraw from the program and pick another career path.

Montgomery Taug was 18 in 2015 when she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, the same kind of bone cancer Terry Fox had. About a week after her diagnosis, her right leg was amputated above the knee.

Now she uses a prosthetic and a wheelchair.

After lining up student loans and rushing to fill out paperwork after another cancer surgery earlier in April, Montgomery Taug toured the college's Edmonton campus at 10004 Jasper Ave. during orientation last Thursday.

That's when she first was told about problems with the elevator.

"They told me, 'Oh, it's a little unreliable and sometimes it doesn't work,' " Montgomery Taug said Wednesday on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

Being the only person in a wheelchair in the the room at the time, she spoke up and asked what she could do if she needed to get to class on a day the elevator was out of order.

"They told me, just go home and miss the day of school," she said.

"It was pretty shocking."

After talking with family members, the young woman shared her story on Facebook and asked for advice from former students. They told her the faulty elevator has been a problem for years.

She contacted the college, but didn't get a response until Monday, the day her courses were scheduled to start.

She said the college confirmed the elevator wasn't working, but didn't offer any solutions. She decided to withdraw from the program and scrambled to cancel her student loans.

"It was very disappointing," she said. "I just wanted to get back to a new normal."

College responds

CBC News received a statement from Reeves College late Monday.

"We are committed to providing all of our students with an accessible and welcoming campus experience," the statement said.

"The building has had issues with the elevator in the past, but we had been informed the issues were fixed. We have contacted the building again and have been assured a permanent solution is being worked on. We are pushing building management to address this immediately, with minimal disruption to students and their journey.

"We value our students, their experience at our facilities, and most importantly do not want this to impact their learning in any way."

Montgomery Taug said she's glad the college is taking action, but is disappointed it didn't come sooner.

She successfully cancelled her student loans and is now hoping to pursue a career in prosthetics and orthotics.