Disability Community Protests on University of Minnesota Campus

On Thursday, March 23, 2006, members and allies of the disability community gathered in front of the Ted Mann Concert […]

On Thursday, March 23, 2006, members and allies of the disability community gathered in front of the Ted Mann Concert Hall to protest philosopher Peter Singer. Members of the Disabled Student Cultural Center, The Arc of Minnesota, Advocating Change Together, and many others joined together in the first disability-related protest on campus in over ten years. The event was on the front page of the Minnesota Daily. It was also covered by KARE 11 news to spread our concern to the wider community. Though the focus of Singer’s lecture was on factory farming and vegetarianism, he has been challenged by people with disabilities for his controversial views advocating the right to euthanize babies with severe disabilities and in some cases adults, grounding his understanding of disability as negative and deserving of pity. We did not intend to discourage people from listening to Singer’s lecture, but rather our goal was to show attendees that they cannot glorify Singer’s views on animal ethics, as many in attendance of his talk shows clearly do, without recognizing that this support is for a scholar who is extremely discriminatory against people with disabilities. With over fifty people present, persevering the cold weather while holding signs with slogans such as “your attitude is our only handicap,” “everyone belongs,” and “disabled lives have value too,” our message to Peter Singer was clear: his presence in our community is not welcome. Further, we hope to capitalize on the attention this protest received around campus to continue our ongoing fight for a Disability Studies program. We’d like to extend special thanks to our speakers, Professor Alex Lubet, U of M student Kathryn Ware, and filmmaker, activist, and author Billy Golfus, for sharing the personal stories of disability that Peter Singer soeasily pushes aside in order to practice a philosophical theory in the bubble of academia.

A free luncheon was held onApril 7, 2006 a the Disabled Student Cultural Center (DSCC). On behalf of everyone at the DSCC, we are extremely grateful for all who attended the protest and discussion. We hope we can maintain the ties across organizations that this protest encouraged us to build. For more information, please contact Emily Smith at shmithers@hotmail.com or call 612-624-2602.