Hello, my name is Belinda Spinosi and I was a full time activist at Ohio SU when I attended school here. I think I would like to step back a few steps and talk briefly about how the situations, student organizations and student for disability awareness was before we got to the protest. I came to school in 93 and there was already a student organization involved and trying to make improvements in the university and campus. I attended a student organization, my very first one and Morries Modre who was the president of the organization at the time, was graduating a was worried about handing off the organization to somebody who was worried about it being completed. I sympathize so desperately with him, I was the only one attending at the meeting so I needed to act on it I believe so. I soon to find out that a lot of the programs and services on campus weren't happening for students with disabilities. We had problems getting into buildings, elevators weren't working, we had classes being put into buildings that students couldn't get into, 50% with physical disabilities couldn't come to campus at all because of transportation issues. 50% were dropping out because once they got to campus they couldn't get around campus. WE had serious issues with books being put on tape appropriate for students that needed them and we weren't getting anywhere with the administration. The disability task force had already been working for a year when I got there and they closed down a year later and the university shelled the project. WE were starting to look more desperate. Ten about the time we lost our director and were without a director for a couple of years. Things were looking bleaker. At that time there was a handful of students that we were trying to keep moving on this issues. Temper was our president most of the time and then we had Lumna Moserie. I would she was the professor of the group. She ended up cleaning up the end of it because she had such great diplomatic skills. Then we had Evon Williams and she was a very good friend to all of us and kept us motivated. But we were struggling. We were losing ground and things didn't look good. ODS wasn't even getting any respect. We weren't recognized as a group across campus. Nobody knew our issues. So Temper and I were both political science majors and so started putting our heads together how we could make the most of the opportunity and what we started looking for was a political opportunity to settle this out in the whole campus area. We knew this would happen eventually but we needed to find the right opportunity. So I started writing for the lantern. Getting out the conversation so people would understand why were complaining and why there were problems and what the problems were. We started negotiating for transportation for students across campus. This was in the summer of 98. We went away for the summer to come back to find out that the transportation and parking had almost eliminating rides for students with disabilities. They were changing over their authority for transportation for students with disabilities over to the COTA transportation systems which is central Ohio transit authority. In Columbus area already had an understanding that the COTA was not transporting people with disability and what few rights were given they were very much not on time. Very few people could use the service. We knew then that there was just no way our students were going to get to campus. So we put together a meeting and decided what we were going to do. The first thing we were going to do was pretext the student transportation on campus. We did that with our new student leader. Brenda Brueggemann . Brenda was very instrumental once we were in the protest in the president's office to give a face, to give some common sense to the problem were having. At that time students were pretty much emotional about the issue and were very desperate and we were acting desperate obviously with the protest. WE wont that protest and got transportation on weekends, got the university to provide transportation to students by providing a lift to the buses and extended hours on weekends that student could have transportation. We were very happy about that. Also coming up was the COTA vote for the university campus. It was the second vote to see if student would be interested in continuing the transportation that they received form COTA. As you know all students are required to pay for the transportation. But students with disabilities couldn't use the transportation because the buses were not accessible. So we started a campaign. First going to the COTA bus committee and explain our problems were having with it and the new vote that was coming up. They said they could not help us so we started a protest in the newspapers and discussion about why this was not working for students for disabilities. How were being required to pay for it but couldn't use. It became a short message that resonating with a lot of people because they understood it. We had a steep path to go through because most students wanted and we understood that. It wasn't that we were against transportation with COTA it was that we wanted everyone to be included. The vote came up and we protested the vote. Me and Lumna Mosier stood outside the library, the main library and picketed and passed out flyers explaining to people why weren't for the vote if they would listen to us. We got a lot of attention but the vote was a land slide. But we were okay with that. We understood the real purpose but weren't giving up. That gave us more conversation that we were looking for. We got good coverage on that. But weren't getting anywhere with the committee. So it came to close to the end of the school year. The traditional thing that Ohio State did was that they allowed student activists to graduate and things would just continue on and we knew that that was the way. We were very desperate knowing that the next class coming in was not particularly ready for doing the difficult work we had been doing. We knew we had to finish it by the end of the year. Tim and I were graduating and Lumna was going on to get her Masters degree. So what we decided to do was put together a protest in the president's office. We were very fortunate to get not only the Lantern but the Columbus dispatch to follow us and some of the other TV stations. We went in there very friendly with provost and the president and explained to the what our issues were. We had spoken with them many times and even to the board but to no abell. I knew my graduation was coming up and I knew this was the last political opportunity we had. W would stage a protest in the office and if nothing else I could look out over the oval while graduation was going on from inside the president office. I explain myself well to that to the provost and to Steven Mcdonald who was the attorney of Ohio State. I wasn't trying to pull any punches but this was a desperate move we were trying to make because it was desperate times. It took them a few days for them to settle in to see if I was really going to follow through. It was the ninth day when they came through with information about some of the things we had asked for. The last couple days took in meetings from representatives on campuses ODS and some other individuals who had been involved in trying to advocate for us. We eventually did get a pretty good agreement out of the COTA protest. We had difficulties with COTA even with sitting in the protest in the press with them because they were angry we took it public so well. We explain to them that ti wasn't just for us but for a lot of people. Our students were very important and they needed to get to campus and around on campus. Once we were clear about our position and that I wasn't moving. They settled down and did the paper work and got forwarded agreement. Ohio State was great. They took the information that we needed start to the committee and the committee backed us. They came through with some other arrangements that we had been advocating for. One was the ADA coordinator. One was the Office disability Studies and we wanted to have all the books to put tape in any fashion that the student needed to have them in. We wanted adaptive recreation to be restored fully. They had taken a 75% cut in some of the budget cuts which was disproportionate to others. I think there were a number of things that Disability services asked for that they got as well. WE also asked for a student group room over in Pomerene hall so that students could gather there because we had been asked to leave ODS student group so we got that as well. I think were fairly successful. A lot of us, we knew when we got to the end, Lumna Time and I we recognized that this was going to come out pretty good. We were sad that we hadn't been be able to enjoy it ourselves as student but looking forward to students be able find success that we couldn't. I don't think there was anything we could change. We were operating off what resources, what little resources we had We were very fortunate in having a leader like Louis Burke and Brenda Brueggemann as well. Who were advising us and reminding us of our positions. Staff on campus could not advocate the way students could advocate. That was made very clear us so that we knew we had a very limited opportunity but that we could make the most of what little we had and that we had a bargaining position as students. I hear that the ODS has been taken care of very well. That was our primary concern. I understand the disability studies department is taking off and doing fabulous with new students. I have been able to check online for dissertation that have been given. I am very pleased with the efforts Scott is making into the communities to bring people together. Very impressed with the activities he has promoted here on campus as well as reaching out to government. Scott, our ADA coordinator has made amazing strides. We knew by reading the application of The Americans with Disabilities Act that would be a break through if anyone could get one. We made the provost understand the importance of that position and how that would play and benefit the campus as a whole. I think it was a very violent time for students, very desperate situation for students but ultimately it was the student with multitudes of staff, good advisement from Louis burke and Brenda Brueggemann and a community of large numbers of people. When you see me you actually see hundreds of people who are always involved in many levels, whether giving information helping us work through the system a little better, or had things that needed to be included in the advocacy. We are very thankful to them.
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