In my years as a disabled member of Pacific’s community, I have been a witness to and victim of several incidents of ableism. The issues of ableism on Pacific’s campus range from resources on campus to Campus Public Safety officers not being equipped to aid disabled students in need, as well as minimally accessible buildings.
One night my sophomore year, I reached out to CPS to help me get to my dorm from a parking lot after my disability had put me in a position that night where walking alone was unsafe and I was at risk of injury. I was scared and needed help. However, when I asked the on-duty CPS for assistance, I was met with invalidation and skepticism. “If you really need help, then I guess I could bring the golf cart and get you to your dorm.” I had disclosed my disability, asked for help, and was treated as if I was an inconvenience. After this, there were several more times that I should have been able to reach out to CPS for help, but didn’t because I was terrified of being dismissed again. Truthfully, I hold no ill will towards the officer, but now, two years later, I am wary of the CPS department as a disabled person. That night, it was made clear to me that the training our CPS officers receive does not adequately prepare them for interacting with disabled students in need.
Additionally, accessibility is far less than ideal on campus. Marsh Hall is notoriously inaccessible due to its main entrances being located atop short flights of stairs. There is an elevator, but it is only accessible by going down the ramp to the left of the building, which some disabled students colloquially call “the Ramp of Death” due to its steepness. The University Center is also known for its inaccessibility due to its construction three decades before the Americans with Disabilities Act. A ramp from the top floor to the bottom was constructed at one point, but requires students who use it to walk out of the building, down the walkway, and all the way around the volleyball court before approaching the entrance to the bottom floor. This is functional, but not ideal.
I understand that the solutions to the instances of ableism on campus are not obvious and can be complicated or expensive, but the first step to rectifying them is to bring light to them. Disabled students are just as much part of the Pacific community as the able-bodied ones and we deserve equity, whether that manifests itself through increased building accessibility, workshops to teach faculty how to appropriately help disabled students in need, or literally anything to show that the university cares enough about us to try. But frankly, as it stands, these problems are not being addressed or acknowledged, and the lack of effort implies that Pacific doesn’t care about the experiences and wellbeing of its disabled students. — Kyla Wilson
Kyla Wilson (she/they) is a senior Creative Writing major at Pacific University from Caldwell, Idaho. They are the managing editor of the Silk Road Review at Pacific. Kyla’s poetry has been featured in Pacific Literary Undergraduate Magazine.