You gotta love the name. . .
SOFEDUP stands for Student Organization for Every Disability United for Progress. So Fed Up! Isn't it a great name?
Yesterday SOFEDUP held what they called a "media availability" to raise hell about the continued inaccessibility of Brooklyn College and the City University of New York -- CUNY -- and show reporters around campus so they could see the barriers for themselves. SOFEDUP is thinking about suing if the colleges don't get accessible, they say -- and soon. They're so fed up!
According to their press release (which doesn't appear to be online) they have
many grievances, which include, but are certainly not limited to locked elevators, lifts that have been broken for five years, automatic door openers that don't work and most egregious of all, action taken by the college this week to lock students with mobility impairments out of the library. . .
About that last:
Beginning earlier this week gates and caution tape suddenly popped up in front of the library, blocking off the accessible entrance to the library. Tiny signs posted on the gates read, "FOR HANDICAP ACCESS PLEASE USE REAR DOOR," but it is not actually the rear entrance, but rather the freight entrance, which Brooklyn College keeps locked. . . .
SOFEDUP says that the library incident is just another instance of widespread discrimination against students with disabilities. Locked elevators, steep ramps, broken lifts are just a few of the many grievances that they have with the College. In a letter dated October 11th, 2006 SOFEDUP aired some of their grievances to top Brooklyn College officials, including College President Christopher Kimmich and City University of New York Chancellor Matthew Goldstein demanding an immediate redress of grievances. The letter also presented them with an ultimatum - reply within seven days or the students will protest. Three weeks later no administrator has replied and plans for demonstrations are underway. . .
SOFEDUP doesn't have a website yet -- although you can see that sofedup.org is registered with godaddy.com -- but the group's been around since the early 70s. You can read a little bit of their history in this transcript of a talk by longtime NYC disability activist Pat Figueroa, archived at Berkeley's Bancroft Library here. (Or download the audio file here.) Pat took over SOFEDUP back in the early 70s, and met his wife through the group.
Back then, says Pat in the transcript, the college didn't seem to have a clue about access -- they planned to ramp two steps of a 4-step entrance, evidently -- read it to believe it! And it seems 30 years on, problems continue.
So it's no wonder they're So Fed Up!!
By the way, if you don't know about the Bancroft Library's collection of materials on The Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement, you're in for a real treat. Click on the link and start reading about disability rights history from the folks who made it!