Crip Liberation strives to make UNM accessible

A photo reading Crip Liberation. Above the letter C is the international symbol of access. Above R is ASL for R, above I is a cane, above P is ASL for P, above L is a image of a person in a hospital bed, above B is a leg cast, above E is a hearing aid, above R is a pill bottle, above A is a walker, above T is a crutch, above I is a cane, above O is eye with a slash, and above N is a ramp.
Image sourced from Crip Liberation's Instagram @crip.lib

By Madeline Pukite / NM Newsport

A new student club at the University of New Mexico is giving disabled students a space to share their experiences with ableism and accessibility issues.

The group is called Crip Liberation. It was formed last year by students in a transgender studies class meeting on Zoom.

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One of the original members is Soph Colson. 

“Basically, we just started talking about what it would look like to have a little community on campus that was about disability,” Colson said. “I really was coming from scratch.”

Colson said Crip Liberation aims to be a place where people can come and talk about medical situations they are facing, or issues with UNM – for example fears around dropping covid protocols – or other problems with accessibility on campus. But also to celebrate their victories.

Another founding member – Cash Money –   says they strive to be non-hierarchical.

“We really want any person who comes in to know you’re at the same level as us,” Money said. “We wanted to be as welcoming as possible — to be like, ‘you’re in.’ And like, if you can only come to one meeting, cool.”

For many members of the club, including Mercy Jones, this space felt like one of the first times they have been able to discuss these issues.

Jones even called it an act of suicide prevention. 

”So, it was very important when I kept going to meetings, it was completely life-changing to be surrounded by people who understand this struggle and understand what it’s like to navigate the university,” Jones said. 

Colson says the goals of the club are wide and they ultimately aim at completely restructuring UNM to be functionally accessible for all disabled students.