First Floor Fanatic

Hey again interwebs,

I’m fairly bad at predicting what I’m going to want to write about. Actually I think my brain rebels against it. Every time I’ve said I’m going to write about something, I’ve turned around and gone to pretty much the opposite of that topic. I don’t know what’s up with that. Consider this my apology for doing it yet again.

Today what I want to talk about is accessibility. Accessibility is a really big deal, and I think a lot of people are really used to buildings being accessible in the US. Probably because that’s how it should be? Yeah, that. I’m fairly used to seeing ramps and elevators. It’s a good thing.

Wesleyan doesn’t seem to agree. Wesleyan Students for Disability Rights (WSDR) founder Allegra just emailed our listserv asking for thoughts on Wesleyan’s accreditation self-study in regards to disability, and here are my thoughts.

In the accreditation self-study, Wesleyan says “Limited funding, steep topography, and numerous historic buildings challenged the University’s ability to satisfy accessibility needs without compromising the historic character of the campus.”

I love Wes and everything, but I didn’t realize our semi-shitty classroom buildings were so “historic” that we couldn’t possibly add a couple ramps and elevators without “compromising” them. And ya know, those works of art that are the Foss dorms probably couldn’t be contaminated with wheelchair access either. I think it wouldn’t be a big deal. I think the more honest answer is the “limited funding,” since it’s becoming less and less of a secret that Wes is a bit strapped for cash (need-blind? What?).

I decided to do a little bit of lazy “research” and found that 25 of Wesleyan’s buildings are listed as “first floor access only” (sometimes worded differently than that) on their disability accessibility map page thingy. And not every building is even listed. Including my house, where not even the first floor is accessible. That’s not awesome, Wesleyan. First floors are usually not all there is to a building. Classes aren’t always on first floors, our friends’ dorm rooms aren’t always on the first floor, that art show we want to see or lecture we want to hear isn’t always on the first floor. This is a little bizarre.

I’m not affected by this right now in that I’m not in a wheelchair.* In fact, I’m pretty sure that no current Wesleyan student is wheelchair-bound. I don’t really think that’s a coincidence. I think that if you’re a student looking at colleges and you’re in a wheelchair and you come to Wesleyan, you’re probably going to look around and realize it’s not the place for you. And that means we’re losing people who could be awesome members of our community.

I don’t know if other colleges do it better, to be honest. But I do know that Wesleyan is an awesome place that I love a lot, and I wish the community could hold itself to a high standard of accessibility and acceptance of disability. (Kinda like we do for the LGBTQ community, do many colleges have this going on? Didn’t think so) And let everyone get to WestCo wine and cheese.

 

*but the cool thing about MS is that I could be in a wheelchair at any moment (plot twist!), and if so, I like to think that I’d be able to stay at (and still love) Wesleyan

Guess I missed a couple things…

In spite of trying to be a good blogger and keep whoever happens to read my blog informed about my life, I’ve missed out on some of the most important things! So, once again, a list

1. My college does this great thing called In the Company of Others (ITCOO) during freshmen orientation. It’s a thing where several (this year it was 9) older students volunteer to write and deliver (terminology?) a monologue about some experience they’ve had at college (or before if it’s relevant) that shaped them into who they are today. This past orientation (about a month and a half ago) I participated along with 8 fantastic people and told my whole fun diagnosis story. Kind of a downer, but also a good thing to do I think? Then felt super embarrassed about skipping the ITCOO that happened during my freshmen orientation last year…. 

2. I joined WSDR (Wesleyan Students for Disability Rights) this year, thanks to 2 fellow ITCOO-ers who are the founders of WSDR. Very cool and active student group here, even though it’s intense to identify as disabled for me… 

3. I’m getting interviewed! By Christin Rice, www.christinrice.com , who writes a great blog (click the link!) about change. She’s cool, that’s cool, very exciting 🙂 

4. I got some MS t-shirts! Less exciting, but whatever. One says “Multiple Sclerosis Ninja” (I got it because it’s so enigmatic… by enigmatic I mean I think somebody figured out you can put any words on a shirt with “ninja” and it will sell) and the other says “I’m not drunk, I have MS.” Clearly I plan to only wear it while inebriated. Ha! However, have not had courage to wear them outside of my house… 

5. I’m writing this blog post as a break from an all-nighter that I am currently pulling for a Developmental Biology midterm…. wish me luck guys… 

6. On a related note, RedBull is a hideous (but suddenly necessary) beverage. 

7. Finally, if you happen to be around Wesleyan on Halloweekend, come check out VOCAL DEBAUCHERY’s Halloween show on the 29th at 5PM (probably in the Nics Lounge). We’re hilarious and fantastic and a good way to use up your Saturday 🙂