UGBC’s newly formed Council for Students with Disabilities (CSD) convened on Tuesday, February 3 to discuss the future of the department and its role in fostering an unprecedented campus-wide dialogue about physical disabilities.
The CSD seeks to improve conditions on campus for students with physical disabilities by removing any physical or social barriers for students on campus, facilitating mobility and refining administrative recourse.
“My hopes are just to improve the physical and social needs of people with physical disabilities — educating students on what it’s like to have a disability and on what ableism is,” Phoebe Fico, Chair of the CSD, confessed to the Gavel. “I hope to start the dialogue and start a community.”
Though there are numerous students with physical disabilities on campus, BC has not been able to successfully galvanize a consistent discourse on the topic.
“If you don’t have a physical disability,” Fico began, “it’s just something you don’t really think about.”
While BC does provide various aids and resources for students with disabilities on campus, the issue has not seen much address and many students remain unaware of the resources available.
“They need to alert students better about construction and they need to be more conscious about things like snow storms,” Fico explained. “It needs to be more of a dialogue instead of just the student going to the Dean for Students with Disabilities, to professors or to the Dean of Students, because there is that stigma — you don’t want to need help.”
Through the formation of the CSD, Fico hopes to raise awareness about and eliminate the stigma against physical disabilities on campus.
“People know what racism is, people know what homophobia is, but they don’t know what ableism is,” Fico acknowledged.
Fico additionally anticipates the CSD’s fervent involvement with construction on campus, hoping to provide consultation during construction and ultimately increase the campus’s accessibility.
“I hope to actually consult on construction when they’re doing it — get more signage so that people actually know where the disabled routes are,” Fico described. “Just so when they build things they’re keeping us in mind — we’re not just a second thought.”
“I’m really glad this is getting started, because I feel like a lot of people try to hide their disabilities and try to make themselves appear as able-bodied as possible,” Fico remarked in closing. “I had this epiphany that I don’t need to be fixed — I don’t need to pretend to be anything other than what I am.”
If you are interested in getting involved with the Council for Students with Disabilities, contact Phoebe Fico at [email protected]