Through the Leadership Institute, I had the pleasure of volunteering with the Special Olympics to help spread awareness. The “R” word, or “retard” is used far too profanely in today’s society. By setting up in the University Center, the LI helped gather signature on countless banners of people who would pledge to eliminate this word from their daily diction. Becky Dal Santo (CMU+LAS 2013) and I shepherded people towards our booth, explained the mission, and got their John Hancocks. The response was overwhelming; in a single day, countless banners chuck full of student signatures were stacked in the LI.
This is something I have been passionate about since high school. During my sophomore year, I started a similar campaign. “Kill The R Word,” was an at-lunch signature collection in my high school’s cafeteria. Over 75% of my student body signed the banner we made, and the impact was definite. People from every friend-group would call others out for inappropriate use of this word. By my senior year, it was nearly extinct within the walls of LCN. In fact, when I came to college, I was shocked that it was still a prevalent issue. I’m glad I was able to lend a hand in exiling this word from Central’s campus.
Whether it’s a small group or a vast sea of people, I make it my duty to stress inclusion. Derogatory terms used to alienate any group of people kill me; that’s why I try to kill these words.