A Montclair State University event aimed for the disabled, ironically enough, was initially impossible to attend for the target audience because of a malfunctioning elevator in the Student Center. After repetitive complaints, the event was moved from the fourth floor to the Student Center ballroom.
Grub and Grapple opened a dialogue about what can be done to make the campus more inclusive for all types of bodies and abilities. It is a monthly group discussion that covers a variety of topics throughout the semester. This month’s discussion was held on Monday, Nov. 11.
The discussion about inclusivity has been going on for years, with mixed results. At the event, faculty members declared that most change starts from the top down.
Jessica Bacon, an assistant professor from the Department of Teaching and Learning said, “We get more students involved with events that promote discussions and programs.”
Bacon and her colleague, Alicia Broderick, stressed that it is not their jobs to get things started. They believe that Montclair State should have a board or organization that analyzes situations and then puts plans into action.
Some students that attended Grub and Grapple believe Montclair State can do a better job at addressing disability issues. This can be done by changing the environment and culture on campus, and by removing assumptions about “ableism.”
Cezanne Bibes, a junior transfer student, shared her experiences being visually impaired. She has endured particular problems with the Montclair Heights train station.
“I have trouble with the transit system, I’m blind in sunlight,” Bibes said. “It’s very hard to walk across the train tracks because there is no walkway or push-button system. I have tripped three times.”
Montclair State is working toward improving the campus culture with disabilities with the help of students that continue to come forward and share their experiences and struggles.