It’s one of those headlines that make you scratch your head and go – “Am I living in the Twilight Zone?”
Some Arizona State University students have demanded that the school rename its “walk-only zones” because the moniker – they claim with indignant determination – is offensive to disabled people.
Before I get in to some of the hilarious responses to that demand, let’s set the stage.
“Walk-only zones” were created in 2013 in some of the most heavily congested thoroughfares on campus, host to some 75,000 people. Things banned from these zones from 8 p.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays include: bikes, skateboards, Segways, golf carts, maintenance vehicles and the like.
Students must dismount wheeled vehicles within the boundaries, which offer fancy bike valet areas and bike skateboard parking racks. The zones aim to reduce injuries, as students on bikes and skateboards were apparently crashing into people often as they hurried to class. The zones have helped reduced accidents significantly, according to the State Press campus newspaper.
Basically the “walk-only zones” have nothing do with with making disabled people feel bad about themselves and everything to do with making sure students aren’t barreling through crowded pathways.
Now, some students are annoyed with the zones, but not because of the title, according to comments on Facebook. Some have said they don’t like being told how to get to class on a public campus paid for with their money. Others were pissed when campus security in 2014 started handing out tickets and fines to violators. A few joked they didn’t like the zones because they had such a fun time watching people crash into each other.
All complaints within reason. But not this next one: students’ 2-week-old Change.org petition declaring that “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.”
“Change the name to ‘Pedestrian Only’ or any other inclusive title,” the petition declares.
According to a poster circulating ASU’s campus and obtained by Campus Reform, which first reported on this, “not everyone at ASU can walk, so WHY use the lingo ‘Walk Only’?”
“We don’t like creepy people policing our bodies on the way to class either…,” the poster reads.
As news of this new petition circulated within the bizzaro world of Arizona “Safe Space” State University, signers in support commented with points such as “I was on crutches for 5 weeks and felt uncomfortable when seeing this sign” and “This is necessary. Oppressive language is a microagression that needs to be addressed and is often forgotten about. Word choice is one of the easiest things to change and often one of the most powerful.”
Now, as news of this petition spread, many comments under it are laugh-out-loud funny, playfully or cleverly mocking (either quite by accident or very much on purpose) the lunacy of the petition, which has garnered a whopping 92 supporters so far.
* I understand that people with disabilities may be hurt by the use of ‘Walk only’, however, the word ‘pedestrian’ should not be used either as that word comes from the Latin word for foot.
* Isn’t having a sign written in English excluding those non-English readers, indeed illiterate people of every race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender? I suggest a constant staff of interpretive dancers who can outline the proper, non-judgemental use of this path in ways that can meet the communicative needs of all people regardless of interpretive ability.
* A ‘walk-only’ zone is not only offensive to disabled people, who cannot walk, but also to people who might choose to cycle or drive because they find it more comfortable. I suggest that the path should be opened to ALL traffic, to prevent the marginalization and exclusion of people that cannot or will not walk.
*I am a Transfreight highwaysexual who identifies as a Containerkin. I need an 18 wheeler to haul me around the campus. If you oppose me, you are sexist, specieist, transphobes. You have triggered me and you should check your privilege.
And covering the petition for National Review, Katherine Timpf points out: “Funny — I spent most of last summer on crutches and I guess I forgot to call the city to tell them I was being marginalized by having to look at only able-bodied crosswalk symbols and demand that something be done. What could I have possibly been doing with my time that would have been more important than that?”
Her article prompted additional comments pointing out the lunacy of this petition, including this: “Someone should point out to these silly people that the signs themselves are also discriminatory in that they’re only for those who can see.”
Where does it ever really end?
IMAGES: ASU screenshots