Throughout the past few weeks, Minnesota State University, Mankato’s College Democrats and Turning Point USA, two politically opposing organizations, have been meeting to draft a new accessibility resolution for students.
The idea of this proposal unfolded after Joey Novack, College Democrats Vice President, reached out to MSU President Edward Inch through email on behalf of the organization. In this, they addressed their concerns of the University’s dedication to aiding students with mobility disabilities and ensuring a safe campus for them.
In response to this email, Inch stated there were new plans put in place and instructed the College Democrats to report any instances of ableism through the tools with Accessibility Resources and BISA.
Inch further addressed this email with, “I encourage you [Novack] and the College Democrats to develop recommendations and policies that can address issues you see.”
That is exactly what the organization did, and they didn’t do it alone.
Riley Carlson, Campus Coordinator of Turning Point USA, explained how the two organizations came together to resolve the issue of student accessibility on campus.
“College Dems originally reached out to President Inch, and he told them to put something together for him and his cabinet to look at. Joey told me about this, and I said that Turning Point would love to second the proposal and be a part of creating it,” Carlson explained. “We both believed that having two extremely different groups come together to get this done showed the importance and urgency of this issue.”
Val Weber, a freshman at MSU, was involved with the proposal writing process. Weber ran into an accessibility issue earlier in the academic year, and wanted to be a voice for the proposal.
“It matters a lot, but it’s more important to feel safe than emotionally hurt, to me. I feel like if they’re [campus security] treating people like that, they should definitely be held accountable,” Weber stated. “It’s just what battles do I want to fight right now. Do I want to tell them that they hurt my feelings, or do I want to tell them that I feel unsafe?”
In just two weeks, the organizations met up and discussed what needed to be included in the proposal to ensure the necessary actions would take place to resolve the issue at hand.
Some of the items discussed in the proposal include hiring and training ADA certified staff, keeping all tunnels on campus open at every hour, and investing more money and resources to help students with mobility disabilities.
In the first meeting, Novack expressed the importance of this new proposal.
“We noticed an issue that’s very present on this campus that, often times, issues of accessibility and, more specifically considerations made for individuals that have disabilities or for individuals that have different body sizes or differences in mobility, are not taken into consideration or taken into account in many of the key decisions that are being made at our University here,” Novack stated.
After the proposal was finalized in the second meeting, it was voted unanimously to be passed. There are plans to bring the proposal to the University in the upcoming weeks.
Write to Jenna Peterson at Jenna.Peterson@mnsu.edu