On many college campuses, there are signs that say things like, “burn calories not electricity,” with the intention of urging students to use the stairs instead of the elevators.
A young woman from the University of Queensland in Australia expressed outrage with the sustainability signs on her campus. On her blog she claimed, “Not only are these news signs annoyingly patronizing to everyone reading them, but also ableist and fat-shaming.” She said the signs are “a constant guilt-trip for not helping to conserve electricity like other able-bodied people.”
On the University of Louisville website a photo of the slogan in the sign is posted under fitness tips. With a caption stating “Take the Stairs! Walking up the stairs just 2 minutes a day helps prevent weight gain. It also helps the environment.”
In 2014, some students at UCLA voiced their concern of similar signs posted as part of their Healthy Campus Initiative.
“This language is meant to subtly shame able-bodied people into feeling guilty about taking the elevator, and hopefully encourage them to take the stairs as some sort of 'healthy' alternative," said UCLA student Alexandra Tashman. "However, it more than subtly shames people with physical disabilities by implying that they’re either being wasteful or lazy by needing to take an elevator instead.”
The article continues to criticize the signs as "ableist," and claims that the university is failing to uphold the Americans with Disabilities Act and make people with disabilities comfortable on campus.
To further express her outrage by concluding her article by offering an alternative.
"Ableism aside, I wouldn’t have minded so much if the signs had said ‘give your heart a work-out today’ or ‘incorporate fitness into your daily routine,’ the Australian blogger said. "I still don’t think that health is an obligation people have to society, but at least those messages would actually focus on fitness rather than calories and weight loss."
The blogger describes herself as “an ancient historian and archaeologist by training, and particularly interested in feminist and women’s history.” She also claims to “speak to the media and give workshops on asexuality and intersecting topics."