Editorial: Greek community needs to lead discussion in accommodating students with disabilities

Editorial Board

At Iowa State, everyone with the power to do so does their very best to make every single student, all 34,732 of them, feel like they are being accommodated. For students with disabilities, the university has accessible ramps, elevators and alternative entrances. Student Services also provides an alternative to test-taking and homework for those who need help when it comes to academics.

There is a full week in the fall semester dedicated to raising awareness for students with disabilities, giving the chance anyone who is willing to experience the lifestyle. However, the greek community at Iowa State does not fully accommodate students with disabilities and is therefore excluding a minority of students from experiencing one of the greatest parts of the ISU experience.

It does not go without saying that some greek houses do have accessible ways for students with disabilities to enter the building. The greek community has worked toward accommodating some students with disabilities by offering greek organizations to those that don’t actually have a greek house. However, there is still room for improvement so that all greek organizations are physically accessible to students with disabilities.

Any student is able to place a bid to any fraternity or sorority and is able to be accepted without ever entering the building. Some members choose not to live in their house at all during their time at Iowa State. With 60-plus greek organizations on campus, more than 30 of those do not have a greek house.

In the purpose statement on the Office of Greek Affairs website, the following is stated:

“The [ISU] Office of Greek Affairs creates opportunities to become effective citizens in a global society through collaboration and community engagement, the development of self-efficacy and leadership and the advancement of social justice.”

However, when searching “handicapped,” “disabled students,” or “handicap accessible” on the greek affairs website, the only result found is the Lambda Chi Alpha – Alpha Tau Zeta fraternity and its philanthropy on how they help an organization which helps house handicapped children. Nowhere is there a place for a handicapped student to find accommodations or information on how to join the greek community.

As stated before, it is entirely possible to be involved in the greek community, live by the greek mission statement and be a member of a fraternity or sorority, all without setting a foot into a respective house. However by not having these fraternities and sororities accessible for students with disabilities members of the governing greek body are hindering the possibility for those students to be a part of the lifestyle that comes from the greek community.

While there are systems in place to accommodate students with disabilities, it is important for the greek community to match the standards that the rest of society, or at least the university, has set and become completely accessible to all students at Iowa State disabilities or not. If the greek community is truly “committed to developing exceptional citizens who will make a positive impact on the world,” as the Office of Greek Affairs’ mission statement says, then leaders within the greek community should step up and get ahead of the game by leading the discussion of how to become completely accessible to students with disabilities at Iowa State.