Image Courtesy of CUA’s DSS Department
By Mariah Solis
The Student Government Association’s Disability Support Services Executive Initiative hit the ground running since its recent establishment in the 2022 Fall Semester. By working with and for students that use Disability Support Services (DSS), the initiative has done a lot in its first six months and has even bigger goals for the future.
October was an especially momentous month for the initiative. Senator Jordan Gehrig worked closely with the DSS Executive Initiative on a resolution to extend the weekend hours of the campus shuttle. After personal testimonies were shared about the importance of a reliable shuttle system on the weekends, especially for students with mobility disabilities, the resolution was passed on October 17. They are currently looking for volunteer shuttle drivers for the trial program that is set to run March 19-26.
Senator Anthony Curioso also worked with the initiative on a resolution that would ensure elevators on campus have adequate maintenance and safety. The resolution passed on October 24 and has resulted in the placement of maintenance reports in each elevator alongside a sticker with the Department of Public Safety number and a QR code to request maintenance repairs.
Additionally, the DSS Executive Initiative plans to soon introduce legislation that will ensure students with short-term disabilities are aware of the accommodations they can request so that they do not fall behind in class. They believe the legislation is especially crucial for many student-athletes with short-term disabilities, such as a concussion or sprained ankle. They are specifically advocating for pamphlets outlining campus accommodations to be readily available to students in the Health Center.
The initiative also works outside of the Senate and is currently meeting with the interim director of the DSS department to formulate a survey for students to share issues they have dealt with and ways they would like DSS services to improve.
One long-term goal they hope to accomplish is creating an advocacy report on ways DSS can improve accessibility, including potential physical changes to campus.
Starting March 22, they will begin co-sponsoring trips with Campus Ministry to bring student volunteers to Bethlehem House, which serves residents with intellectual disabilities. Furthermore, the initiative is working in partnership with the Catholic Values Executive Initiative to bring a speaker later this semester for a discussion about disability rights in correlation to Catholic principles.
The DSS initiative hopes to schedule multiple events during the month of April on various awareness days. Correy Crawford, junior politics major and Director of the DSS Executive Initiative, shared the reasoning behind this.
“The second part of this big initiative is reaching out to the community, “ he said. “So having these events where we are educating people on what a disability is as well as what we do as an initiative is gonna be very crucial.”
He also shared ways students can support the initiative, such as attending future events, promoting potential surveys, and looking out for fellow peers.
“At the end of the day, 20% of people in the world have a disability. It is the largest minority grouping, so it affects everyone,” he added. “So based on our Catholic values, we have to go back and say, ‘Hey, let’s be community members and love thy neighbors,’ and make sure loving thy neighbors includes disabled people.”
He also recognized that there is a lot more the initiative needs to do and hopes to accomplish.
“The DSS Initiative has worked these last two semesters striving for several large, ambitious goals, and this was our first year,” he stated. “If students need anything, they are free to reach out to me or anybody in the Executive who can point them in the right direction. We are all happy to help; We are all here to help. We’re going to continue fighting for DSS to make sure it’s the best it can be and it serves the students correctly.”
For additional information or advocacy requests, one can email [email protected] to contact Director Crawford.