Khaled Alsafadi is excited to graduate from the University of Georgia this spring with a bachelor’s in psychology, but his excitement is bittersweet because he’s going to miss out on a century old tradition. Upon receiving their degrees, the brand new alumni celebrate by passing under the school’s wrought iron arch, but several concrete steps will keep Alsafadi from partaking.
Being on the sidelines not only disappoints Alsafadi, who has muscular dystrophy, but it leaves him feeling cheated. “They’re taking away from us [students with physical disabilities], the most historic and symbolic tradition the university has,” he says.
Alsafadi has teamed up with several other UGA students to urge the university to do the right thing. “Our motive is to create equal access and equality for any student regardless of mobility impairment,” he says.
He’s baffled as to why the university is being uncooperative in changing the arch when UGA has been so supportive of people with disabilities. “If they actually modified it, it makes it grander and it shows the commitment to sustaining equality for students,“ he says.
Alsafadi may have missed his chance to celebrate this milestone but he’s committed to keeping pressure on the university. One day soon he hopes to return and pass under the hallowed arch just like generations of alumni have done. Toward that goal, he and friends have started a Facebook page for others who support making the arch accessible.