Event ‘ACCESS’es students’ empathy

On March 29, members of Advocacy for Civility, Change, Equality, Safety and Social Justice (ACCESS) hosted “A Moment in the Life,” in which students experienced accomplishing tasks with differing abilities, on Shoemaker Square.

ACCESS is an organization that provides the USM community with information and experiences about people who may experience life differently than others. The organization plans a program every month.

“I think [A Moment in the Life participants] got the intended message,” said Nicole Thomas, ACCESS co-coordinator of events. “I love anything ACCESS has, because, as a business major, I’m stuck in Scianna Hall. It’s nice to interact in the middle of campus.”

This month, the organization focused on people with differing abilities.

Participants picked differing abilities out of a bag and attempted to complete tasks. For example, if a person drew the word sight, they would be blindfolded and asked to pour a cup of water.

The students had the option of accomplishing other tasks while keeping differing ability they picked at the beginning of the exercise.

“Tackling the subject of differing abilities is complex, because you want to create the understanding that people with differing abilities are not helpless – alongside the understanding that day-to-day life is fundamentally different for so many of our peers,”said ACCESS President Jack Hoda. “I think that students who participated really got a new perspective on life outside of theirs, and I also think that those incremental understandings are major steps toward positive change.”

“It really got the students and I thinking about how different your life can be with different abilities” said Vice President of ACCESS Sandria Lambert. “Many of the participants and I were touched and appreciated the experience.”

ACCESS is now an official organization of USM. For now, only resident assistants can be members, but students are encouraged to attend programs and events.

“It was a long process, but it was well worth it to have a greater platform to help educate our campus about essential social justice topics,” Hoda said.

Thomas said now that ACCESS is an official organization, members can educate more Southern Miss students on acceptance and understanding.

“I have had the opportunity to watch this group grow tremendously over the last few semesters,” said Secretary of ACCESS Alli Stockstill. “What started as a group of Resident Assistants eager for change has been transformed into an official organization of The University of Southern Mississippi, and we couldn’t be happier.”

To get updated and connected, ACCESS can be found on Instagram and Twitter under the account @ accessusmttt and on their Facebook page titled ACCESS.