BOZEMAN, Mont. - A popular Facebook post is pointing out the struggles students with disabilities face on Montana State University's campus, especially in the winter.
Amanda Zurek is a senior in neuroscience at Montana State. She loves to bake and sing. She gets stressed out about her exams. She also uses a wheelchair.
Zurek posted on Facebook last Friday, saying the day before she found herself stranded in the snow after her wheelchair got stuck on a crosswalk, all because of unplowed sidewalks. Normally very independent, Zurek says she's disappointed that when she does need help, she can't get it.
"We're just kind of put to the sidelines and I think, you know, people need to know, we still have the same aspirations, we want to make a difference in the world," says Zurek. "And we just might need some help getting there."
The sad truth is that most public spaces - at least if they were built more than just a few years ago - were not designed for people who are differently-abled or disabled, so while it's not hard for many of MSU's students to go trudging over some crunching snow, it can be a game-changer for someone who's on their way to class in the middle of a snowstorm.
Even just a little bit of snow can send Zurek's wheels spinning. She adds she didn't write the post to call people out.
"This isn't a blame game, I'm just trying to bring awareness to this situation. I need to have the same opportunity to succeed in my classes that my peers do."
We went to campus to talk with the university about Zurek's concerns. They say some of their top plowing priorities are the paths to disabled and differently-abled students classes.
"I completely understand, it is frustrating to get around when the snow flies," says MSU News Service Director Michael Becker. "And the university tries to keep up as best we can and we want to listen to people, we want to make campus accessible."
Still, they say this has been a learning experience.
"We try our best to make sure campus walkways and pathways and roads are cleared," Becker says. "You know, in this case, we obviously didn't meet this student's needs and we will strive to do better on that account."
Zurek sat down with the office of disability services on Monday. Now she's a student disability advocate which means she'll help them address concerns for students with disabilities across the campus.