I glance into these windows and I see how I walk, a stride that is slightly off balance and resembles that of a drunk person. This walk is a lifelong reminder that there was a lack of oxygen to my brain during my birth—the evidence that I have Cerebral Palsy.
As I prepare to graduate in May from Vanderbilt University, I find myself conflicted between recognizing that I am incredibly fortunate to have a Vanderbilt education, but also accepting that having a visible disability at Vanderbilt has been a challenging experience.
There is a bizarre irony behind the fact that at a university that is home to one of the top special education graduate programs in the country, the only …show more content…
The focus on compliance allows students with disabilities to simply survive on Vanderbilt’s campus, but surviving is a different experience from …show more content…
The university has responded to dialogue led by student activists with positive changes. These changes include the appointment of the University’s first Chief Diversity Officer, the creation of the Office of Social Justice and Identity, and additional staff being hired by the Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life, and the Office of LGBTQI life. In contrast, despite various students, staff, and faculty advocating for improvements for those with disabilities, the university continues to relegate disability to simply being a compliance issue.
Institutions such as Yale, the University of Chicago, Stanford, and the University of Michigan have set up committees comprised of university leader, professors, and students who report on and address challenges facing people with disabilities on their respective campuses. Syracuse University has even created a Disability Cultural Center. However, on most American college campuses the view of disability still rarely touches upon culture and student