Take Medication, Or Else.

Last night I discovered a woman of my acquaintance had been arrested under a mental inquest warrant–someone close to her (we know who it is, but to preserve this woman’s privacy, I’m concealing certain details to prevent her from being identified from this post) had gone to the police and claimed she had a mental disorder and was not taking medication for it.

From what I know, this warrant is a means to force one’s relatives to get treatment for mental disorders. You’d suppose that this would require a lot of proof, both of the diagnosis, refusal of treatment, and a danger to someone, right? Apparently not. The woman I referenced above is completely able-bodied, and has not threatened or posed a danger to anyone–but that did not prevent Louisville Metro Police from sending two squad cars to this woman’s home, arresting her, and detaining her for several hours before discovering–whoops!–she had no mental disorder.

So, apparently the word of one person is enough to get someone locked up for presumably refusing to take medication. I received a text message today, the sender said:

“Still I could see it if they claimed she was psycho or dangerous, but _____? Please!”

I responded thusly:

“I can’t. Everyone has the right to choose to take medication or not. That right is meaningless if people who have conditions for which medications are available aren’t allowed to refuse.”

I cannot describe how angry it makes me to see such blatant evidence of disregard for the rights and humanity of those of us who are differently abled–and even those who are thought to be differently abled. To know that the entire time I refused medication, I was one phone call away from being arrested, thrown in jail, committed, and forced to take medication frightens and enrages me.

Unfortunately, I cannot find any information via Google–as in, the requirements to obtain a mental inquest warrant, what happens to the person the warrant was gotten against, or if it can be challenged. This information is something that I, and the PWD community in general, need to have. But ultimately, this is something that should. not. happen. No one has the right to force medication on another. Everyone has the right to refuse medication, to refuse treatment.

Not Accessible, Unacceptable.

Western Kentucky University is not, by virtue of geography, a disability-friendly campus. Western students are called Hilltoppers for a reason. The joke goes that you can tell freshmen from upperclassmen simply by looking at their calve muscles. Complaints about attending class are often paired with complaints about walking “all the way up The Hill.” However, these complaints are from able-bodied students.

Steep inclines and stairs (lots of them) are not a feature of The Hill, they are par for the course. There’s no avoiding them. That’s part of the problem, but not for the reasons many students, faculty, staff, and administrators would think. Ramps are too rarely seen on campus. If a person, for any reason, must avoid using stairs, it would take much longer for that person to get where they’re going. Ramps are few and aren’t near most main walkways, curb cuts are more common, but too often they are poorly maintained. Where most students could simply take a direct route to their destination, disabled students cannot.

Building access is another issue. Stairs are everywhere. Most buildings on campus have at least one entrance that is completely unaccessible by wheelchair or scooter. Often, the only wheelchair-accessible entrance is on the side, or the back of the building (of course, front and back are relative here). Two out of the three main entrances to the main library (Helm-Cravens) have only stairs. No ramps. The Helm entrance, where one of the coffee shops is located, is one such place. If I were wheelchair bound, I would have to go around to Cravens, through the lobby, across the bridge connecting the two buildings, through the first floor of Helm, and out the door to the coffee shop.

Able-bodied students have four steps.

This is unacceptable. The Hill is no reason for Western Kentucky University not to be a physically-disabled-friendly campus. There is no reason that every entrance to every building cannot be accessible. Every door should be automated. My fellow students should not have to speed up, calling for the person in front of them to hold open the door for them. My fellow students should not have to take a wide, circling, “scenic” route to get to class. My fellow students should not have to circle a campus building to find an entrance they can use.

It is unacceptable. Hilltoppers can do better than that.