Events include open forum, resource fair, film screening
ASUCD’s Disability Rights Advocacy Committee and the UC Davis chapter of Eye to Eye hosted the first-ever Disability Awareness Week from Feb. 26 to March 2. The student-led initiative encouraged students, faculty and administrators to confront and disassemble the stigmas surrounding mental and physical disabilities through three primary events on campus.
DRAC is composed of members of the UC Davis community who aim to raise awareness about students with disabilities. Eye to Eye is a national organization that works to connect young students with learning differences with university student mentors who have similar experiences and difficulties.
The two organizations held an open forum about how to improve UC Davis for the community of students with disabilities on Feb. 27. The next day, the groups organized a resource fair with information about on-campus support systems. On March 2, the documentary “Being You” was privately screened in the Memorial Union. The film is about three young students who learn to believe that their disabilities are not flaws, allowing them to positively change their perceptions of their own differences.
At the open forum, titled “Discussing the Future of the Disability Community at UC Davis,” audience members expressed thanks to members of the committee and the club for their efforts in raising awareness for students with learning disabilities. They also asked questions regarding the current wellness and number of students with disabilities at UC Davis.
“There’s a pressure, sometimes, for students with disabilities to not come forward because they’re feeling like it’s a really competitive campus,” said Jennifer Billeci, the director of the Student Disability Center. “We have a relatively low number of students registered for [disability] services on this campus.”
One audience member questioned if students with disabilities had access to additional or superior facilities and support at other universities. She postulated that students with disabilities have difficulty learning at an institution that follows the quarter system, and concluded that UC Davis should change its academic calendar to be more inclusive of these students.
One panelist, Ben Gurewitz, a founder of Eye to Eye and a second-year political science — public service major, noted another significant problem that students with disabilities at UC Davis face: difficulty in communicating with administrators and the university. He mentioned that it might be beneficial to increase communication with this community of students.
“I don’t think that a lot of students have that — have the background or training or the skills afforded to them to engage in that kind of dialogue,” Gurewitz said. “I don’t think that really affords a response, but just to kind of consider how to provide a voice when students don’t have a voice.”
Written by: Jacqueline Moore — firstname.lastname@example.org