In an ideal world, the campus would be accessible and no one would need an entire event to learn about it. Unfortunately, Williams has failed students with disabilities, and not enough people know why or how. On the (in)Accessibility Scavenger Hunt, you have a chance to experience campus from the perspective of someone with a mobility disability, and learn how distance and hills alone drastically impact where we can go and the routes we take to get there. Here are just a few reasons why you need to do the (in)Accessibility Scavenger Hunt:
Williams’ administration needs to be held accountable. The administration cannot ignore the discriminatory, exclusionary, and often illegal aspects of campus highlighted on the scavenger hunt if everyone knows about them. The more people who know the College’s faults, the more likely the administration will feel pressure to enact change. We also need to disrupt the image Williams tries to project as a beautiful, welcoming campus. Prominent staircases are not beautiful and welcoming. If we can acknowledge that the buildings are rooted in eugenics and disability discrimination, maybe we will also be able to acknowledge the deep-rooted institutional racism and colonial history of the College.
2. For yourselves
You will be a better person if you can learn to understand the experiences of others. Use your education wisely and take what is being handed to you on an incentivized platter. For those who want to be allies, you can learn what is most helpful for non-disabled people to do in this fight for accessibility and justice.
3. For your peers
Students with disabilities on campus need your support right now. We are terrified of the campus going back to “normal” and getting rid of everything that was made accessible to us because of the pandemic. We desperately need you to understand how we move about this campus, and why we need you to care about accessibility. Please trust us when we say it’s important, and that we need you to learn.
4. For the world
Some of these stations have content about deeply important social justice issues, such as housing discrimination and unequal pay, that are a part of other social justice movements that you may already support. Learn how to include people with disabilities in your other activism. Disability justice will help everyone.
5. Because we created this for you
People with disabilities already know that navigating this campus is difficult and harmful, and we already know that we’re being discriminated against. This is for you to experience a small percentage of what some of us go through on a daily basis. Rebecca Dodgson ’22 and I, with the help of Ky Gerbush of the Office of Accessible Education (OAE), spent a lot of time designing an event that is accessible to as many people as possible in as many ways as possible. Rebecca and I have been hoping to share our lived experience on campus for a long time, and we would be very grateful if you participated. If you need any more incentive, we have some excellent prizes.
Abby Fournier ’21 is a political science major from Natick, Mass.