be an ally
the anthology
the bathrooms

coming out
A short history of accessibility work at bates


- In the early 1990’s, there was a Disability Short Term – students would take on a disability (usually they opted to be either blind, deaf, or confined to leg braces/a wheelchair) for the entirety of the Short Term, and gain a new perspective on life at Bates, and would take trips to more urban and more rural places to gain a broader perspective. They didn’t claim to understand what it was like to be disabled, as they knew their ‘disability’ had a set end-date, but did it rather as a learning experience. Students also compiled videos for the admissions department to educate perspective students about life at Bates.

- In the mid-1990’s, a group met several times to work on issues of accessibility at Bates, and produced a brochure, were able to add a paragraph on disability to the Viewbook. A TTY phone number was also set up in admissions, although it is unknown if any current admissions employees are trained to operate it.

- In the late 1990’s, Patricia Murphy was named Director of Physical Plant, and took the initiative to ramp a few campus buildings every summer. She is no longer the director.

- Shawn Draper, Class of 1998, was one of the first disabled students to enroll in Bates (a few became disabled while students). He faced a lot of difficulties in getting around campus, and did a lot of work to raise awareness of inaccessibility at Bates. The back page of the Bates Student (the former home of Question on the Quad) once featured photos of him in front of every building he was unable to get into, and he organized a boycott of the 1997 Harvest Dinner to raise awareness about the discrepancy between Bates’s claims that it doesn’t have the funds to make buildings inaccessible, and the fact that they have the funds for lavish events such as the Harvest Dinner. He wrote a front-page article for the Bates student entitled “How Bates College disabled me,” wrote a letter to then-president Harward, and was featured in the Sun Journal. An article about the Harvest Dinner protest appeared the Winter 1998 edition of the Bates Magazine.

- In 2003, the first wheelchair guide to Bates college was published in anticipation of wheelchair group attending the summer Dance Festival



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