It’s hard to say which will die out first from exhaustion — online petitions or the term “microaggression.” Both figure in a story out of Tempe, Ariz., where students at Arizona State University are petitioning the school to change the name of its Walk-Only Zones to something less “offensive” to people who cannot walk.
A petition at Change.org initiated by Alec Melger of Mesa, Ariz., states:
ASU is one of the largest universities in the United States and is a place of work, learning, and leisure to over 75,000 people on campus. Enforcing “Walk Only” zones onto campus property marginalizes disabled bodies who cannot walk. This petition is in effort to make a more blanket title for these zones that encompasses the diversity of all bodies who occupy the community that is ASU.
Melger’s proposal is to “change the name to ‘Pedestrian Only’ or any other inclusive title,” which substitutes one microaggression for another: The term pedestrian refers to someone on foot. But a change in nomenclature misses the point anyway since that it’s not the name that is discriminatory but the policy behind it. From the university’s website (emphases in the original):
During enforcement times, no one may ride, drive or park wheeled vehicles in Walk-Only Zones.
Wheeled vehicles include:
- Bicycles (traditional and motorized)
- Delivery/Maintenance & Landscaping cars, trucks and carts
- Electric vehicles and golf carts
- Inline and roller skates
- All motorized and wheeled vehicles
* The Walk-Only Zones are not intended to limit or redirect use of mobility devices by individuals with disabilities. Learn more about ASU mobility services.
Clicking on the “learn more” link takes the reader to a page describing ASU’s Disability Access and Resource Transportation (DART), which serves the needs of students, faculty, staff, and guests with permanent or temporary physical disabilities. The page advises, moreover, that “the service is operated as a ‘scheduled ride’ system and is available Monday through Friday from 7:10 a.m. until 6:45 p.m.” It would appear that disabled individuals who need a ride on the spur of the moment or at non-covered times are out of luck. If it can be argued that a microaggression exists, this is it.
In any case, the petition so far has been signed by 58 people, at least one of whom — judging from the comments — has been microaggressed. His name is James Qian and he writes:
I was on crutches for 5 weeks and felt uncomfortable when seeing this sign.
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