UIC Welcomes the Disability Cultural Center
Disability Resource, Disability Cultural
Being a new resource for people with disabilities, the DCC will continue to work alongside the DRC to expand services for students, staff, and faculty. For instance, the DCC and DRC would like to see the development of a mentoring program for incoming undergraduate students. Through such an initiative, Stupp explains, the DCC “can help [students in developing] a sense of self and become part of a community.” Classroom inclusivity remains a topic of significant concern as Stupp notes “some students encounter oppression, discrimination, and stigma in the classroom and that is really closely connected to culture. Not everything is about accommodation. So definitely I’m so happy that the Office of Diversity will have an impact in the classroom.”
At the DRC, the staff is happy to see the DCC opening their doors to students, faculty, and staff. “It’s been great to see that the cultural piece [is continuing] with the Office of Diversity so that there can be better programming for students and staff—better understanding of the culture and the inclusivity that should exist. I think that with [Associate Chancellor and Vice Provost for Diversity] Amalia Pallares’ leadership, and those that are serving at the Cultural Center, [we] will see a rapidly growing center in the upcoming months” states Bills, Associate Chancellor for the Office for Access and Equity (OAE).
Danielle Earls, Assistant Director for the Office of Access and Equity, also notes the importance of the new cultural center, “I think the Cultural Center… [is] a space for students to study, gather, or just hang out. The current configuration of the DRC wasn’t inclusive to create that community so I think that’s a huge advantage of the DCC with having that ability to create a space for students and having the DRC really focusing on top notch student services so that we are able to implement those services and accommodations and make sure that they are getting all the support that they need in their academic elements, while the DCC are focusing on that cultural component.”
Communication and collaboration between the DRC and the DCC will remain essential as both units seek to better serve the disability community at UIC. As Earls explains, “Last week we had some students who were on campus and asked to have a buddy introduce them to campus buildings, and while that wouldn’t be an official accommodation, we can work with the DCC where students who are part of that community would be ready to volunteer to give services in another way. There are also people that inquire about student groups or opportunities to create them specifically around an identity whether it is a specific disability like autism or ADHD. I think that the DRC can help in building that with the DCC. So that when a student comes to us we can say ‘oh, we have that resource on campus’ and it doesn’t have to be general tutoring, it can be specific to your identity. I see a great collaboration to offer those services that might not fall under the umbrella of compliance accommodations.”
The DRC is committed to supporting an environment where students feel like they can successfully navigate the university setting and work on building a shared identity. Earls also credits student advocates for the changes that are happening on campus, “I think that the students are very active in how to shape the DRC and the DCC and we have that strong student voice for advocacy and I think that’s important to build a community and create that culture.” Adding to that sentiment, Bills says “we care deeply about this community and the students with disabilities have the right and deserve access to everything on this campus and we will ensure that they will have that.”
For the full article, please visit: https://diversity.uic.edu/news-stories/uic-welcomes-the-disability-cultural-center/