Stephanie Ban, BA Student in History
‘That Noisy Mess in the East Lobby’: Physical Accessibility at Chicago-Area Universities, 1970-1990
Rosenwald Hall 329
April 13th, 12:00-1:30
Light lunch will be provided
This project examines the history of disabled students and disability rights activism at the University of Chicago after the passage of Section 504 but before the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and contextualizes the protest within moments of activism at other universities like Northwestern and UIC, and within the broader disability rights movement. Using the lens of the 1983 protest staged by social work student Jeff Ellis and the Ad Hoc Committee on Handicapped Access, I argue that despite Section 504 having established regulations for physical access, these were largely ignored by the University, demonstrating that access was largely a concern of affected students and their allies, and that administrators thought of disability as an individual problem to resolve, rather than a facet of societal diversity. I argue that UChicago’s attitude toward access lagged behind that of public institutions such as UIC, but that it seemed on par with Northwestern’s, exposing more reticence on the part of private universities to prioritize physical access. Private universities like UChicago and Northwestern have always been slower to act, revealing an interesting trend with implications that private universities did not conceive of the “elite” and worthy student as disabled.
The article, to be read before the meeting can be accessed here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B1d482dTkFcoUXFGZ1JzNjlnYWs?usp=sharing