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R-word has no place in conversation, say conference speakers

R-word has no place in conversation, say conference speakers

Nov 18, 2012 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Central Wyoming College students and community members have taken a public pledge to support the elimination of the "r-word."

Student Seth Finley spearheaded the campaign and campus rally, where he spoke about his experience with words like "retard" and "retarded."

Speaking Nov. 8, Finley said people who use the "r-word" appear ignorant to him.

"They appear as though they're the dumbest person you've seen in your life," Finley told the group gathered Thursday in CWC's Little Theatre.

"And they have the nerve to look at you, frowning, and pretend there's something wrong with you. ... My response is utter anger."

Attendees talked about ways to approach someone who is using the "r-word" in a negative way, suggesting that people should be assertive but not aggressive when starting the conversation.

Jim Yager, whose son Jordan Yager has a developmental disability, said his family has dealt with the word for "quite a long time."

"It's been so universally used, so a lot of people let it slide," Jim said at the rally. "When we hear someone use it, we politely, without anger, ask them not to."

The Yagers said they are looking for ways to educate people about the hurt the word can inflict.

Jordan was recently in a commercial advocating for students with disabilities, and he regularly visits his mom, Julie Yager, in her elementary school classroom so students can have positive experiences with a developmentally disabled person at an early age.

"I really think early education is key," Julie said.

CWC counselor Lance Goede said the "r-word" campaign is meant to be a tool to initiate conversations. He encouraged people to talk about the national effort to eradicate the word's derogatory use.

"Use it as rationale to reinforce the subject," Goede said. "It's not just you trying to get them to change."

CWC's Diversity Committee and Student Senate hosted Thursday's event. For more information, visit r-word.org.

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