Accessibility is clearly not a priority when it comes to issues that exist on campus. At least, that’s the impression I left with after the General Assembly had adjourned.
The majority of the General Assembly was spent arguing over which motions deserved to be debated first. Specifically, both the BDS motion supporters, as well as the Anti-BDS motion supporters in room were adamant on having their motions debated first, as they opposed each other.
Personally, I submitted four motions to the General Assembly that called for: better accessibility at the Athletic and Recreation Centre, prioritizing ramp clearing during the winter, having a new ramp installed in front of the Burke Science Building, and having a survey administered to Student Accessibility Services users, focused on accessibility issues that are not directly related to academics (i.e. Welcome Week, and barriers of entry into campus buildings).
Wanting to get through to all of the items on the agenda, I suggested that the motions be discussed in the order they were received by the speaker, so that we could get to each motion fairly without further discussion about logistics. This would place the BDS motion first on the agenda, the accessibility motions second, the motion about Kosher and Halal food at Bridges third, and the Anti BDS motion last.
The majority of the room agreed with this amendment, and this is where things started to take a turn for the worst. Those who were against having the BDS motion discussed first, made another amendment, this time using my accessibility motions in order to politically manipulate the situation. A massive amount of people started to argue that my accessibility motions were more important than the other student issues on the agenda, using these statements to solely aid the argument that the BDS motions should be discussed after the Anti BDS motion, as long as the accessibility motions were discussed first.
Though I agreed that accessibility should be made a priority, I felt used. I was disappointed and disagreed with the concept of using accessibility issues at McMaster University as a way to get one political issue spoken about before the other at the Assembly. On top of that, those using my motions in their argument undermined and ignored the fact that I already voiced, twice, that I wanted the motions to be discussed in the order they were received by the speaker.
When this amendment failed, a significant amount of people on the Anti BDS side refuted this, making yet another amendment. This time, the majority of people who originally claimed they wanted accessibility to be priority, scratched this argument. They demanded that both the political motions be completely taken off the agenda. When this amendment also failed to pass, they left the room. This back-and-forth wasted so much time that no other issues on the agenda was discussed. I felt like my accessibility motions weren’t taken seriously by the people feigning so much support for them. The walk out killed time, disrupted quorum, and showed little respect for the other motions on the agenda.
I was not expecting the lack of accessibility on campus to be used at the General Assembly solely to cause advantages or disadvantages to other motions. I was not expecting to be denied speaking time because of agenda ordering. As an incoming Social Science SRA representative, I do plan to bring these accessibility issues up at future Student Representative Assembly meetings, but the fact that a lot of students at the General Assembly either placed these issues on the back burner, or used them to achieve their own political goals, has caused me to question whether accessibility on campus really is important to students at McMaster University.