When Tariq Bashir earned his associate’s degree after four hard years (delayed by major health issues) he never thought his wheelchair would keep him from accepting his diploma on stage during the Central New Mexico (CNM) Community College graduation. “It’s supposed to be the happiest day of your life,” Bashir told KOB Eyewitness News 4.
Two weeks before the commencement, Bashir said that an activities supervisor informed him that, because of safety concerns, he would not be allowed to use the ramp to the stage to accept his diploma. The student took the issue to the dean and the disabilities office. The response from Diana Myklebust, CNM Administrative Technical Assistant, was an email that read in part, “…because of safety concerns the decision to not allow wheelchairs onto the stage area stands." The report did not explain what the ‘safety concerns’ were specifically.
Bashir was disappointed and told the station, "I'm not allowed to go up on stage to get my degree. I have got to go to the bottom of the stage and not get that shining moment like everybody else was getting.” The milestone was marred. “They didn’t hear my name being called. They didn’t see me getting my degree in hand. They just saw me rolling back to my sitting position,” the graduate told KOB.
Mr. Bashir was surprised that in all previous graduations, the access and safety issues had not been resolved. He’s hoping that it will be dealt with in the future so no wheelchair bound students will be made to feel different.
KOB notes that Bashir was shot by an Albuquerque Police Department officer and paralyzed from the waist down in 2000 when he was accused of a killing. He pleaded guilty to a charge of voluntary manslaughter and has since been working to turn his life around.
Video and more info: KOB