A Change.org petition has begun with the intention of having Kenyon College Administrators refrain from renewing their contract with AVI unless reforms in accessibility are made. The petition, which already has 87 out of 100 desired signatures, includes personal testimonies from two students, detailing the hardships they’ve been forced to endure during their time at Kenyon.
Lin Miao ’17, a student with cerebral palsy, writes:
I have difficulty maintaining my balance when I walk. On the few days when my paths were clear of spilled food, I was able to retrieve food for myself in Peirce. However, I have repeatedly fallen inside Peirce due to food spills ignored by AVI employees. Each time I have raised this issue with AVI employees, they have dismissed my concerns by telling me it was impossible to clean up “every single spill,” as if I were requesting they have a 0% error rate. I have only asked them to increase their vigilance in clearing the floors–example, by designating a specific employee to watch for spills–but unattended spills can still be often found in Peirce, even during off hours. Spilled food is a hazard for anyone, but students with mobility limitations are especially vulnerable to slipping and falling when they cannot catch their balance. Since spilled food disproportionately endangers disabled students, the physical facilities inside Peirce are not ADA accessible.
Deirdre Sheridan ’17, a student with a severe dairy allergy, states:
When I began experiencing symptoms of an allergic reaction at my own Convening Dinner and explained this to an AVI employee, I didn’t get an apology or an alternate meal–just a “whoops, sorry” reaction. Situations like this continued to occur throughout my first semester–I would begin eating a dish marked dairy-free or vegan and begin to experience signs of a reaction, and AVI employees would only offer sheepish apologies rather than real solutions. In my first year, I met with then-AVI Resident Director Kim Novak nearly every week to inform her of issues I had seen in the servery, from labeling problems to poorly stocked vegan and gluten-free fridges to a lack of knowledge among AVI staff. I would always see a slight improvement, and then a quick retreat back to the way things were, meaning very few options for me and other students with severe allergies.
Both students state that they have dealt with these issues during the entirety of their time at Kenyon, and that situations have not improved despite their constant communication with AVI staff. Miao adds that “Deirdre and I would greatly appreciate each and every community member who takes a stand against inaccessible practices in Peirce. “