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What It's Like, #7

Posted by Communications, Marketing and Creative Services on December 2, 2022 in Community Highlights

What It’s Like is a series launching for Dalhousie Accessibility Week, one that provides members of the Dal community with an opportunity to share their first-person perspective on living with a disability. People are welcome to share with their name or anonymously.

Submitted by Fallen Matthews:

Tell us a little about yourself and your role here at Dal.

I'm an interdisciplinary doctorate (IDPhD) candidate whose project covers Black Studies, Cinema and Media Studies, History, and Psychoanalytic Film Theory. I am also the Vice President of Student Life and Communications (VPSL) for the Dalhousie Association of Graduate Students (DAGS) in addition to being the Indigenous Pedagogy Coordinator for the Indigenous Studies minor program as well as the Student Engagement Coordinator for Dalhousie Student Life, specifically Student Experience. My roles span community engagement and the facilitation of events respective to informing people about resource needs and the distinctions of marginalized positionalities.

What do you wish people knew about your disability?

I wish people knew that it wasn't just a matter of will. I cannot control or simply overcome my anxiety, autism, arthritic limitations, and/or even seizures wholly by mindfulness or some kind of mental shift outset. My disability is compounded by my neurodegenerative disease - Fahr's syndrome - which my neurologist notes is rare, unique, and thereby holds a precarious and individualized onset in terms of physical and psychological symptoms.

What accessibility changes would have the biggest impact on your experience here at Dal?

Due to my financial situation, I was unable to acquire the requisite diagnoses until relatively late and therefore unable to request or gain any accommodations. This led to many struggles academically which were further compounded by my marginalized positionality.  As grateful as I am to comprise the distinguished Dalhousie community, I do feel increasingly alienated and out of place as I near graduation simply because the university has not done much for me in terms of EDIA that is substantive in terms of present and post-graduate supports. I encounter many faculty, students, and personnel on campus who marvel at my achievements and perseverance; but this does not translate to anything regarding my personal aspirations of professorship within my own proclivities and areas of concentration, nor does it speak to incoming students with likewise interests who've yet to see likewise representation in me - which inclines me to fear that I have let down the very communities I embody and intently work so hard to support.

Previously in this series:

You can find all entries collected here.

Interested in sharing your own experiences?

We'd love to hear from you. Please take a look at our questions below and how to submit them. Please note that you can choose to remain anonymous if you wish. (Note: names will be visible to individuals receiving submissions by email).

Our questions for you:

  • Tell us a little about yourself and your role here at Dal. (Note: If remaining anonymous, this prompt can be skipped — or, simply share as much detail as you feel comfortable doing).

  • What do you wish people knew about your disability?

  • What accessibility changes would have the biggest impact on your experience here at Dal?

If you’re interested in sharing your experiences navigating university life with a visible or invisible disability, please contact us at with answers to the above questions or to set up a short interview.