Student, professors discuss disabilities at panel

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By Myles Morrison

Dixie State University’s Multicultural and Inclusion Center partnered with the Disability Resource Center to shed light on the hardships that students and professors with disabilities face on campus.

The panel, held in conference room D of the Kenneth S. Gardner Student Center, welcomed students and professors who wanted to hear the personal stories of disabled peers. The panel emphasized that a disability can extend beyond physical impairments like blindness, deafness and being wheelchair bound, and can affect mental health as well, such as ADHD, anxiety and depression.

“The main purpose [of the presentation] is to educate [able-bodied] individuals that a small population of our students struggle with things like getting across campus easily [and] finding and using restrooms and things like that,” said Mike Nelson, assistant director of the MIC and the Native American student adviser. “We want to continue to include all students in the efforts to make this a truly inclusive campus.”

Marlena Martinez, a senior biology major from Milford, presented a video of her everyday life showcasing the hardships disabled students experience each day on campus, including accessibility with some handicap doors such as the math and science buildings. She said the handicap accessible doors often do not work and cause more pain than leisure to students who have to face certain disabilities.

“This is what I have to go through to get to my next class and going up that hill [is] not the greatest; my arms were killing me,” Martinez said.

Other disabled students said braille signs around campus are often worn and difficult to read. One of the biggest issues brought up during the discussion was that DSU does not have enough students with these disabilities to bring awareness; student presenters said there is not enough awareness to make instant changes that help Trailblazers who face these problems.

Students said there are a number of false stigmas around campus and they would like to be treated like every other Trailblazer on campus.

Baako Wahabu, director of the DRC, said, “I just wanted to get the honest opinions and the different experiences and how we can use that to improve access and increase awareness of disability issues here on campus.”

Wahabu said he was impressed to see a lot of students attend the panel to hear what had to be said.

“It is always a challenge to have students to get students to attend events like this, but the room was over three-quarters full, so I was really happy about that,” Wahabu said.

If you have any questions or have a disability, the DRC is located in the North Plaza Building and is open Monday-Friday 8 a.m-5 p.m.