Addressing Uvic’s (In)Accessibility; An open letter from Jon Granirer
Jonathan Granirer (he/him) is a fourth-year University of Victoria (UVic) student with considerable experience in university governance and advocacy. Granirer was the University of Victoria Student Society (UVSS) Director of Outreach and University Relations and was a UVic student senator until recently. He is an active community member of the Society for Students with a Disability, where he has held various positions. Granirer continues to be a powerful advocate for equitable access to education and university life as the Co-Chair of the Access for All Committee, an essential movement of utmost importance to the SSD and our community members. His blog is below.
WHY UVIC‘S LACK OF ACCESSIBILITY CAUSED ME TO RESIGN FROM UVIC’S BOARD OF GOVERNORS
My name is Jon (he/him) and I am a 4th year Humanities & Social Science student who has served in various student representative positions at UVic since 2019. I am a student with a disability, and I have also spoken to and worked with many disabled students at UVic who face ableist barriers. Most recently, I served on UVic’s Board of Governors (BoG) from 2021 until May 8th of this year when I resigned in response to UVic’s failure to improve accessibility at UVic for students, especially those of us with disabilities. Our university’s leadership, including the BoG, has shown itself to be unwilling to meaningfully address the rampant ableism at UVic, which is unacceptable and frankly shameful; the solutions to many ableist barriers at UVic are well within the ability of our university’s administration.
My pleas to address UVic’s lack of accessibility and accommodations have been met most often with cold indifference or token displays of concern that dissipate entirely by the time we have reached the next agenda item. For the past three years, I have been waiting for our administration to take meaningful action to address ableism at UVic–and many others have been waiting for longer. Since my efforts to address ableism at UVic while on the BoG, and as a student advocate in general, have prompted no action from the university, I feel that I have no other option than to resign.
Currently, many disabled students at UVic struggle to succeed in their courses due to UVic’s inability, or unwillingness, to ensure that adequate academic accommodations are available to students that require them. Students who experience sudden bouts of sickness are often only accommodated by being allotted extra time on their exams… as if a three-hour exam wasn’t nauseating enough already.
Students who cannot attend in-person courses, due to a disability or otherwise, are rarely given the option to attend class virtually, despite the presence of video streaming and recording technology in nearly every UVic classroom. These examples are just two of many instances in which disabled students are not receiving adequate academic accommodations. Our university is unduly hindering the academic success of disabled students and, in some cases, even prohibiting their enrolment UVic.
I strongly believe that UVic should be for all with a passion for learning and demonstrated academic proficiency, regardless of their accessibility needs.
On behalf of the many disabled students at UVic who struggle immensely to succeed academically and many other potential UVic students who cannot attend our school due to a lack of accommodations, I beseech our university’s administration to reconsider our university’s lack of leadership and humanity regarding this issue. I write these words not as a critic of our university, but as someone who cares deeply about our university community, and who has given thousands of hours of their time to ensure that our university is as inclusive, beneficial, and accessible as it can reasonably be for all members of the campus community.
I want to be proud of the university community that I am a part of, and in many respects, I am, but this inhumane behavior on the part of the university is extremely upsetting and I refuse to allow to let this injustice go unmentioned.
Finally, I would like to call on all present and future UVic student leaders to prioritize the advocacy for accessibility at UVic. I believe that positive change can be made at UVic, but it will not occur unless we, as students, speak out in unison against the inequities that fester and proliferate as our university continues to neglect its moral responsibilities to its student
Sincerely and in solidarity,
A well- loved quote by Jon, from Toni Morrison, is
“When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else.
If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”
We, at the SSD, share in Jon’s frustration. Jon has worked tirelessly within and alongside the SSD for many years to make the university a more accessible place. He has inspired many folks to get involved in advocacy at the university and provided so many hours of his time as a volunteer to support the advocacy needs of marginalized groups.
The SSD thanks Jon for all he has done and will continue to do.
– Society for Students with a Disability Executive Council