Dialogue focuses on diversity in disabilities

By Ross Bogue

Many students see a crack in the sidewalk on campus and step right over it, unaffected by the jagged ground. But for others, such as Lindsey Newland, something as simple as a crack can cause major problems.

Newland, a social work graduate student, must use a motorized scooter to get around UK. She will be speaking at tonight’s Diversity Dialogues forum, sharing her concerns about the sidewalk accessibility efforts for disabled students at UK.

“It is difficult for me to maneuver my scooter around the many cracks and uneven surfaces in the concrete, not to mention it makes for a very bumpy ride,” Newland said.

Newland will also address the need for street access on all sidewalk surfaces, because some of the curb cuts are in very awkward positions, she said.

The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs is hosting its final Diversity Dialogues forum of the semester tonight at 7 in room 230 of the Student Center. A panel will discuss personal experiences and effective ways of ensuring that students with disabilities can easily participate in the campus community.

The panel will include students with disabilities, other students, staff members, a UK psychologist and members of the Disability Resource Center.

“We need to remind this institution that we need to take care of the students who are paying tuition to come here and get a proper education,” said Mahjabeen Rafiuddin, director of student diversity engagement in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.

The Diversity Dialogues series has hosted forums throughout the year, ranging from topics about homophobia on campus, to interracial relationships, to whether or not America is ready to elect a female or minority president.

But diversity involves more than just race and sexual orientation, Rafiuddin said.

“Diversity is not just about racial challenges,” she said. “There are other students with issues, like students with disabilities, who face severe challenges at UK.”

Rafiuddin said forming the panel for tonight’s event taught her a lot about barriers and challenges students with disabilities face every day at UK.

“I am excited and honored to have students and staff come together to dialogue about this topic,” she said. “We must learn from each other in order to build an inclusive community for all students at UK, not just some.”