At the spring Associated Students of Mills College (ASMC) community meeting on May 1, members of ASMC’s disability task force brought up issues involving apparent and non-apparent disabilities within the student body.
Senator-at-Large Mel Petricko, a member of the disability task force, suggested creating a disabled student group to help evaluate the changes that will be made on campus to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ASMC and the administration accepted this request.
Last February, Mills College settled with the United States Department of Justice and agreed to alter 296 items on campus to accommodate students with disabilities.
The discussion between the disabled student group and the Mills administration would have to begin as soon as possible, according to Chief of Staff and Vice President for Operations Renee Jadushlever, because some of the changes to the campus are being made right now. Jadushlever also said that the College has to follow what the ADA tells them to do.
The disabled student group will be assembled through the ASMC, the Division of Student Life (DSL), and Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students Eloise Stiglitz.
A lack of awareness for apparent and non-apparent disabilities was also a concern for student Leticia Aguirre, who was present at the meeting.
Deborah Gartside, Senator-at-Large and a member of the disability task force, said that there will be an effort to raise more awareness for apparent and non-apparent disabilities, including an ally training and Disability Awareness Month.
“In listening circles, we found things out that we didn’t expect,” Gartside said, including the fact that many students hadn’t “come out” to people about their disabilities, apparent or non-apparent. An effort to de-stigmatize disabilities will be a priority for the task force.
According to Gartside, some professors did not respect a student’s accommodations and did not comply with the requests made by students through Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD).
Part of ASMC’s goals in the future is to ensure that SSD accommodations are covered and that a report on disabilities will be made. Having focus groups generated by ASMC or the administration is also in their plans.