Ithaca College’s chapter of Autism Awareness will be holding a “Spread the Word to End the Word” event to raise awareness about autism and the harm of the word “retarded” on campus this Thursday.
“Spread the Word to End the Word” is part of a larger national movement designed to make casual, everyday use of the “R-word” unacceptable. The IC Autism Awareness event will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday in IC Square. Students in attendance will be able to sign a large banner, pledging to stop using the “R-word.” There will also be a comedy club performance. Student Volunteers for Special Olympics will have a table at the event to provide more information about the cause. IC Autism Awareness expects about 75 people to attend.
April is National Autism Awareness Month, and the college’s chapter of Autism Awareness has put on events throughout the month. The group sold cupcakes in the Roy H. Park School of Communications and screened a documentary about autism, which they hope to show again next fall.
Junior Brittany Cochario, president of Autism Awareness, said the event is a way to raise awareness and provide information about autism.
“It’s just a good time for other students who believe [in] what we do to come and sign the pledge and see what our organization is all about, and just learn … different facts about autism that we’ll be sharing and just to see what autism is, because it is really unknown to a lot of people,” Cochario said.
Sophomore Rachel Goldberg, executive communications chair of the organization, said the idea of the event is to get as many people as possible to sign the petition to end the “R-word” and pledge to remove the word from their everyday language.
“The event is really important, because people say the ‘R-word’ on a daily basis and they don’t realize how hurtful it is, so it’s very important to spread awareness,” Goldberg said. “[The event is] a great way for college students to all come together and recognize this problem.”
Sophomore Danielle Henning, the community outreach chair, said the event is important, because many people use the “R-word” in day-to-day life without thinking about the actual meaning of the word.
“A lot of people use the ‘R-word,’ and I think people use it nonchalantly without thinking about how it could affect other people or what it means to other people [with disabilities],” Henning said.