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Letter: Just like everyone else

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 3 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

Updated: Tuesday, Sept. 2 2014 6:00 p.m. MDT

The title of Lee Benson’s column (“Aggies elevated: Welcome to college, everyone,” Aug. 25) perfectly sums up the hopes both students and parents have for this trailblazing program. Their dream is captured in his observation, “They paid their tuition … they lugged their bags — and favorite stuffed animals — into their rooms … and they rolled their eyes at their cry-baby mothers who couldn’t bear to leave them just like everyone else.”

Sadly, the tone in much of the rest of the column doesn’t treat the students “just like everyone else.” Instead of calling these young adults “students,” as he does their peers without disabilities, Mr. Benson repeatedly calls them “kids.” He also places the disability before the person by referring to the group as “intellectually disabled” rather than “individuals with intellectual disabilities.” Additionally, he perpetuates the notion of a separation between “them” and “us” by asking, “… How to help transition such people into society?” Finally, he reinforces the longstanding sentiment, “They are not ordinary; they are extraordinary.”

Through unfortunate word choice, Mr. Benson unintentionally undermines the positive story he wants to tell. Language matters.

Andrew Riggle

Salt Lake City

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