News Releases

Ithaca College Students Seek to End Use of the 'R' Word

 ITHACA, NY — A rally and educational event will be held on the Ithaca College campus on Tuesday, Sept. 20, as students seek to end the use of the “R” word — “retard(ed)” — in everyday speech. “Spread the Word to End the Word” will be held from 4–7 p.m. on the Fitness Center Quad. It is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

Featuring representatives from campus and local organizations, entertainment and refreshments, the event is sponsored by the Recreation and Leisure Studies Majors Club, Student Government Association and Tri Fund (Office of the President, Office of the Provost and Division of Student Affairs and Campus Life).

“Our goal is to raise awareness and encourage people to pledge their support for stopping use of the ‘R’ word in everyday speech,” said student Jessie Kanowitz ’12, a therapeutic recreation major and president of the club. “This word has hurtful consequences not only to people with disabilities but also to their families, friends and everyone around them. It has a dehumanizing effect on society as a whole.”

Ithaca College organizations taking part will include Active Minds, Student Government Association, Recreation and Leisure Studies Majors Club and National Student Speech Language Hearing Association. Community organizations will include the Special Olympics and Down Syndrome Support TCA. Attendees will be encouraged to sign their name to a personal pledge to stop using the R-word and to make pledge bracelets.

“There will be opportunities to talk with people from the Special Olympics, volunteer to work with people with disabilities, enjoy good food and music and hear from inspirational speakers about their history with the ‘R’ word,” said Kanowitz. “Please come and help us reach our goal of 1,000 pledges!”

“Spread the Word to End the Word” is part of a larger national movement intended to make casual use of the “R” word unacceptable. For more information, visit For more information on the Ithaca College event, contact Jessie Kanowitz at or Sarah Brenner at