Everything Isn't Always Wonderful in Wonderland
Meredith is not “Wonderland” for everyone; there is a certain demographic that gets overlooked. Those with disabilities at Meredith are sometimes not welcome and spaces are not often accessible to them. Accommodations are not always recognized by other students, faculty and staff. However, just because it doesn’t affect you, it doesn’t mean it is okay to turn a blind eye. People who don’t have disabilities may not realize what life is like at Meredith with one. You also may have never experienced how students with disabilities are treated academically. There’s so much that can be done to help understand what it is like and aid in the improvement of accommodations at Meredith.
It can be hard for those without disabilities to realize what Meredith is like for those with one. One student, who wished to remain anonymous and will be referred to as Student 1, commented on her experience with students here at Meredith. She explained, “I wish students would not immediately shut down students with disabilities. You don’t know their background and what they have gone through.” Not all of us may get to experience negative attention or nasty stares from people who belittle those with disabilities. We also don’t get to know what it feels like to be outcast because of something that is beyond our control. Student 1 later implored people to remember that “we are all here together...be open, kind and patient with those who might struggle more.” We, as a community, can make the right choice and choose to include those who are frequently excluded.
Traditions aren’t designed to be inclusive of everyone at Meredith. Student 1 also noted, “Cornhuskin’ skits have boundaries and seem to discriminate against and don’t accommodate those who are disabled physically. [It] shuts them out of important traditions [in] Meredith’s culture.” The biggest tradition of the school seems to be the most exclusive as well; this doesn’t just go for the disabled community either. Not being able to enjoy or be a part of Meredith’s most prominent tradition is a major flaw that needs to be addressed. We should be including everyone in Cornhuskin’ and all events. By making our events inaccessible, we are making the institution inaccessible, and we are eliminating the potential to gain more amazing women leaders and taking away their access to a renowned education.
Since our transition online, some students have had different experiences than others, especially when it comes to accessibility. Hannah Brittain-Dubois, ‘22, commented, “Since being online it hasn’t been as great as before. It’s more beneficial to see professors in person because then they can see or better understand our issues. Obtaining accommodations and actually following them is a problem as well. Some professors aren’t keeping up.” With online learning being a difficult transition, accommodations are needed now more than ever. Students who can only take printed notes and tests may run into issues, especially with the transition online.
There are things within our academics that need to change. Student 1 commented on her experience with professors here at Meredith, stating that “Meredith could have professors who have empathy for students with disabilities. They treat me differently because I learn differently. Some are not willing to help and make me feel dumb when I leave the class. As a whole, I feel like if professors are more open to communicating with students with a disability, they could know how to treat the situation better.” Many students are often not given the time or resources needed to help them succeed; we are letting down our community by not helping and showing empathy to the students who need it.
There are many things that can be done to help students and to be more mindful when it comes to disabilities on campus. One of the biggest things can be the act of educating yourself; learning what rules are in place and should be obeyed is a major help. There are also clubs and organizations that you can join to help educate or gain a new perspective for yourself, such as Meredith’s Angels for Disability Advocacy club or Angels for Autism. Both of these clubs are a great way to join a community that cares about these issues. If you are reading this, you can no longer say you are unaware of the issues. We all have a say in the future of how we handle disabilities and cannot stay silent any longer.
By Kaylee Haas, Staff Writer