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Be aware of the R-word

Megan Aldrup | Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I agree with yesterday’s column (“Spread the word to end the word,” March 2) and the Letter to the Editor (“The hurtfulness of one word,” March 2) on the importance of the efforts to end the careless use of the words “retard” and “retarded.” On March 3, I call on all students to be aware of the use of these words and to be vocal in combating them. There are three main ways these words are used. First is when the R-word is used as a derogatory term for someone with intellectual disabilities. This is hurtful, crass and just plain low. Although it’s the most obvious use of the R-word, it’s not the most common use on campus. We should pay attention to the other, more insidious uses of the R-word. One is the use of the R-word for something annoying, worthless or undesirable (e.g. “Parietals are so ___!”) This sends a message to society, whether you intend it or not, that people with intellectual disabilities should be associated with unwelcome or inconvenient things. That’s just not true. The last use of the R-word is as a casual insult against fellow students, coworkers, or faculty. When you call your peers the R-word, you take their (and your) intellectual abilities for granted. Be grateful for the talents God gave you, the ones that got you a high school diploma and a college acceptance with relatively little difficulty; be aware at the same time that some people face challenges to fit in every day. People with intellectual disabilities display amazing strength and bravery.
On March 3, share in that courage. Pledge to end the R-word.

Megan Aldrup
Holy Cross Hall
March 2