As a Christian community, Trinity claims to be supportive of people from all groups, backgrounds and walks of life. But, as a student who has been a part of the Trinity community for the past year, I feel one group has gone relatively unnoticed. These, our fellow students, wake up every morning and face adversity. The students with disabilities on our campus deserve to know they are loved and cherished members of our community.
When you face chronic struggles, it makes everything more difficult. When I look around this campus, I can point out several issues—a lack of wheelchair accessibility, academic equity and the community’s general tendency to ignore the needs of people with disabilities—which need to be addressed. Trinity does not currently have all the needed support systems for students with disabilities, and that is a problem. Students with disabilities need to feel accepted and supported through the trials they may face.
As a student who uses the disability resources on campus, I came to school knowing it would be a challenge. However, I was not prepared for the fact that every day I would encounter tasks that while might seem almost automatic for most, require an
excessive amount of effort for me. In particular, I was not ready for the level of frustration I would feel sitting through
university classes, not being able to process information the same way as everyone else. Going through school when life is constantly giving me hurdles to overcome is very difficult. Many days I question whether the whole process is worth it and yet, I still wake up every morning and do the whole thing all over again. I am finally getting to the point where I feel I can rely on God’s strength when my own is not enough. But there are times when I feel like no one gets it, and there have been times when I feel like I face these particular struggles alone.
Even in Trinity’s supportive community, the majority of our fellow students and professors struggle to be supportive. Some ask invasive and inappropriate questions, community events exclude students with disabilities, and in extreme cases, some professors are not held accountable to equity policies. Students with disabilities should not be made to feel ashamed, or like they need to hide. If you are a fellow member of this community, I want you to know that you do not have to figure it all out on your own. As students, and as faculty, we need to reconsider the way we act towards those who have unique struggles. Students with disabilities need to be given a voice and we, as their brothers and sisters in Christ, need to be prepared to listen.
I, along with others, am currently working towards the ratification of a resource called TWU Rise. TWU Rise will be a support network to allow students with disabilities, or ongoing medical conditions to come together and support each other in a neutral environment. We will also promote much-needed awareness of issues of equity and accessibility on campus. We are reaching out to you, the Trinity community and asking students with disabilities to prepare their hearts to step up and support each other. We are also asking the rest of the community to have open ears and open minds, and to be ready to support these students in whatever ways they need.
The program is currently in need of someone who would be interested in managing social media accounts, as well as someone to take on the role of treasurer. I want for everyone on this campus to feel loved and accepted and I think that together we can make it happen. We just have to be willing to help people who face struggles realize they are not alone. If you want to join us, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.