It is discouraging to read your editorial which states that students with physical disabilities should not expect equity because of budget cuts. Your editorial seems to say that current economic conditions warrant condoning current segregationist policies which effectively keep individuals with physical disabilities from full participation in the college experience at NIU.
Persons with physical disabilities are not so disadvantaged by their own physical limitations as they are by limits imposed upon them by the built environment. A wheelchair user is not handicapped by his or her inability to walk but by the barriers constructed at a time when inclusion of ALL members of society in activities was not a priority. These barriers not only prevent those with disabilities from participating in the community, but deny those currently without disabilities the opportunity to interact with the full range of the population in a “non-special” manner.
What is even more distressing than the economic argument is the Editorial Board’s condescending attitude exhibited toward those with disabilities. By describing students with disabilities as “truly special,” the Editorial Board exposes its own inexperience and lack of everyday interaction with those with disabilities.
Were the Star’s newsroom facilities located in an accessible building, interaction with fellow students who happen to have disabilities might be possible and such condescendingly discriminatory attitudes toward certain members of the student body might become a thing of the past.
A time of economic difficulty is not a legitimate reason to avoid the difficult tasks necessary to open up society to all of its members. If it is, suspension of other important values such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press may be next on the list.
John S. Clogston