Letter to the Editor | Response to President Barbara Wilson

Abbie Steuhm response to President Barbara Wilson Q&A with The Daily Iowan.


President Wilson’s remarks on the efforts of UI students in advocating for a disability cultural hall were appalling not just because of her vagueness, but also because of her implying that disabled students are nothing more than a “student group.”

Disabilities are not a fun after-school activity nor are they a burden we have no room for. The disabled community has a long, tumultuous, and traumatic history, yet they’ve managed to accomplish herculean feats such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (only 32 years old). We are a community with a rich culture.

The Disability Rights Movement emerged from tight-knitted communities, as seen in the documentary Crip Camp. Our own Student Disability Services only has such a “robust” center in the mall because UI students protested its previous placement in Burge Hall’s basement in 2019. The disabled community is worth celebrating and advocating for, which is why disabled students are demanding a space for themselves.

This isn’t table tennis or esports (the latter having already received their own space in the IMU), this is a marginalized community that faces daily discrimination directly from the university, and now from the university president. It’s simply appalling that we must once again “prove” our disabilities and our worth to the university.

  • Abbie C. Steuhm, University of Iowa School of Library and Information Sciences

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.