As a junior at Bradley University I am pretty familiar with the class registration process. In my first semester here I found registering extremely stressful. I was a freshman on the Bradley University Speech Team with two learning disabilities and no priority registration, meaning I was in the last group of students to register. As a student with disabilities and a 504 plan through Bradley, I found myself having to take courses that put an emphasis on intensive reading and writing – not because they were always necessary, but because my other class options were already full. Honestly, I was struggling to keep my head above water. I had no other option than to take courses with professors who are known to not work well with students who require extra time, attention and accommodations – accommodations that are supposed to be granted to me by Bradley University.
Then, in the spring of 2017 an incredible amendment was made to the registration process: students with disabilities would be added to the list of undergraduates with priority registration. I found myself taking classes with professors who valued my neuroatypical opinion, professors who encouraged me to utilize my accommodations, professors who saw me as an asset to the classroom; rather than an annoyance. I felt valued by my University, which for the majority of my education, hasn’t been the case.
While some of my teammates who are in the honors program also receive priority registration, most do not, because, contrary to the opinion piece that appeared in last week’s Scout, The Bradley University Speech Team does not have priority registration. We never have. The Speech Team works tirelessly to maintain the tradition of excellence we have established at Bradley. In 2017, we are the only program or team to bring a national championship back to this University. But that is not uncommon. Since our inception, we have won 41 team national championships and over 150 individual national championships. Not only have we won more state and national titles than any activity at Bradley, according to the Associated Press, The Bradley Speech Team is the most successful collegiate team in any capacity, including sports.
Yet, the Speech team is still not a beneficiary of priority registration, contrary to a November 3rd, 2017 Bradley Scout anonymous opinion piece.
As a student with disabilities, I was incredibly disappointed to read such ableist rhetoric that is paired with poorly researched, factually inaccurate information. Why shouldn’t I have the “privilege” to register early when all too often I am not even granted the privileges I am entitled to in the classroom? Why shouldn’t I have the priority to choose professors who are known to be allies to students with disabilities, instead of professors who make my disabilities known to my peers without my permission? For an individual to hide behind anonymity and say “Bradley’s acknowledgment and willingness to help such students is commendable, but this gesture went too far and the two simply do not equate” is offensive, ableist, and ignorant.
But my teammates never cease to amaze me, when they are forced to rearrange their schedule, because they’re only option was to take a class with a professor who will not make accommodations for them when they miss school while traveling for competition from September through April. And yet this anonymous writer continues “when it comes to the speech team, what differentiates them from other student organizations? Many groups on campus juggle strict deadlines and would benefit from early registration, but they aren’t given the same opportunity.” I have the utmost respect for every student organization and team at this university, but the difference is simple: time. No other activity has a season as long or as demanding of time as ours. And no other team’s success even comes close to touching the most successful team in the nation – and may I remind you – the only team to ever win a national championship at this university.
I am a student with disabilities, so my priority registration isn’t going anywhere. As for my teammates, I hope someday they will be as fortunate as I am to be recognized as important members of this University – the recognition and assistance they rightfully deserve.
Junior, Television Arts Major
Vice President, The Bradley University Speech Team