Throughout the day, students signed a banner pledging not to use the “r” word. Photo by Reed Strength for The Alabamian.

On Wednesday, March 2, a group of students set up a table outside the caf gathering signatures from lunch goers. Passers-by who signed the large sheet subsequently took a pledge to stop the use of the “R word,” retarded, in reference to the specially abled.

The use of the word is considered disparaging to those with intellectual and developmental disorders (IDD’s) and is widely seen as hate speech toward them.

The event was led by the Montevallo chapter of Best Buddies, an international advocacy organization partnered with the Special Olympics for the rights of the special needs community. Since its founding in 1989, the organization’s goal has been to promote one-on-one friendship with disabled students as well as to foster job expansion and leadership opportunities within the special needs community.

The Spread the Word to End the Word campaign is an extension of Best Buddies’ action in social advocacy and allowed concerned students an opportunity to make a difference in the special needs community.

“I’ve grown up working with individuals with IDD’s, and this is an amazing opportunity to work with the campus,” said Amanda Fare Curie, a senior, majoring in mass communication and social work.

The resulting response from the campus was overwhelmingly positive, allowing the group to collect well over 100 signatures in the hour and a half long function. Students could be spotted throughout the day sporting “I pledged” stickers and carrying pamphlets educating readers on the offensiveness of the word.

Anyone interested in learning more about the issue may visit r-word.org, a website which allows concerned parties to pledge their support to the campaign and understand the importance of the issue. The movement for the equality of the Special Needs Community is ongoing, and those interested may get involved on bestbuddies.org through financial or volunteering opportunities.