Dozens of UNC community members gathered in front of the South Building, holding posters with slogans reading “Accessibility is not an extra step, it’s a step you missed,” and “Disabled and proud.”
The April 27 gathering was part of the Campus Y’s Carolina for Every Body event held to protest inaccessibility on campus.
Campus Y co-presidents Laura Saavedra Forero and Megan Murphy organized the event.
“Disability will affect every single one of us in our lifetimes, whether due to older age, injury, illness, etcetera, and our ability to do things will never stay consistent,” Saavedra Forero said. “So with that being said, I still can’t wrap my head around why people aren’t caring and why a University with so many individuals who claims to care about its students is not caring.”
Saavedra Forero and Murphy gave speeches to the crowd, as did Eleanor Bolton, the co-leader of the Disability Advocates Committee and an executive board member for the Campus Y.
“From the first day I got here, I realized I was not a priority here at UNC,” Bolton, who uses a power wheelchair, said at the beginning of her speech.
The speeches highlighted University shortcomings regarding accessibility.
Saavedra Forero, who also uses a wheelchair, said she had been told to find off-campus housing after she approached the University about her inaccessible fourth-floor dorm. In February, Saavedra Forero was trapped in her room for days when the elevators in her dorm broke. It took several hours for emergency responders to evacuate Saavedra Forero from her dorm so that she could go to Campus Health.
“Club events, athletic games and any activity that is a big part of the Carolina experience is simply just not accessible for us,” Bolton said. “From the first day and drinking from the Old Well to seniors who sign in the Bell Tower – every single event that makes Carolina 'Carolina' is just not accessible for students like me.”