Earlier today, our police department announced it was working with one of our fraternites (Phi Delta Theta) on a “Jail n Bail” Fundraiser for the Special Olympics. Now, I’m all for good causes, but like other faculty members, I thought the method of fundraising was rather tasteless. I cracked that at least this was better than the “senior slave auctions” we had in high school, although not much. Another colleague, one of my CCM members, commented on how this is similar to using Indian mascots — i.e. not good. Others raised issues about racism in the criminal justice system. Then we had a dismissive faculty member who just told us we were taking ourselves too seriously and said we were just biased liberals who need to get a clue.
I gave up at that point, but should have mentioned that there are a significant number of individuals with cognitive disabilities in the criminal justice system, mainly because there aren’t enough services in the community.
Also, I have some ambivalence about Special Olympics — certainly it’s nice to encourage physical fitness and I do think the event raises disability awareness, but doesn’t really do much to address vast inequities in care available to children and adolescents with special needs. Our state would rather place a child in an institution than give parents assistance with basic medical care and other needs.