Student Government department crafting 'Disabled Student Bill of Rights'

The Student Government Department of Disability Advocacy is currently in the process of crafting a document aimed at improving the lives of disabled students on campus.

The Disabled Student Bill of Rights is meant to improve the holistic experience for disabled students at AU. The document will include a more in-depth look at resident life for disabled students, resident education, car services, technology and library services.

Once the Disability Student Bill of Rights is finalized, it will be brought to the Disability Support Services office for review.

The DSS office typically serves about 450 students a year, according to DSS Director Joanne Benica.

SG Director of Disability Advocacy Jenny Leland said that the bill will not necessarily make big changes but will emphasize the resources already on campus.

“Our idea is less to change the services because AU already has phenomenal disability services,” Leland said. “It is to advocate for what we already have and make sure students understand what they are entitled to and that they are able to get that.”

Leland also said that Student “Bill” of Rights is a misnomer, as it is not a student Senate bill in the literal term. However, it is currently the working title and will soon be an official SG document.

Also the Disabled Student Bill of Rights is an original document, not based on an existing Student Bill of Rights or an existing code.

Leland said disabilities still have many stigmas attached to them and are an uncomfortable topic to deal with.

“Whether a student has a learning disability or whatever it is, we want to make sure they feel comfortable and don’t feel like they have to hide their disability,” she said. “In a lot of college campuses, including our own, it’s kind of a taboo topic, not always something people embrace.”

The Office of Campus Life now requires all student clubs to include on their posters for events contact information regarding accommodations for disabled students.

“For example, if an event is going to be in the old SIS lounge, which is physically inaccessible [for disabled students], [the group] would have to accommodate,” Leland said.

Leland could not comment on whether or not the Disabled Student Bill of Rights would include any changes needed for buildings on campus that are currently inaccessible for disabled students.

SG President Nate Bronstein said he looks forward to working with Leland on support for disabled students.

“A more inclusive student bill of rights is just our first initiative to swiftly affect meaningful change on campus.”

In addition to her role as SG Director of Disability Advocacy, Leland is also the president of the student group, Disability Alliance. She has been working on disability reform on campus with the SG since her freshman year.

Leland hopes the SG and the Disability Alliance can continue to work on making AU’s campus more inclusive.

“Don’t feel discouraged because you see a boundary, let’s work through them,” she said. “We’re focusing on the ability part of disability.”

news@theeagleonline.com

Never miss a story

Get our weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox.

More from The Eagle