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College students with disabilities, persistent sicknesses discover neighborhood — The Kenyon Collegian

On Wednesday, the Disabled/Chronically In poor health Scholar Neighborhood Group (DISCO), which Scholar Council authorised on Oct. 30, held its first official assembly. DISCO, based by Hannah Sussman ’25, goals to supply a supportive neighborhood to college students with disabilities and persistent sicknesses, in addition to advance the state of accessibility on Kenyon’s campus.

DISCO’s creation comes within the midst of Scholar Accessibility and Help Companies’ (SASS) yearlong Incapacity = Variety marketing campaign, which goals to unfold consciousness of disabilities by way of posters, workshops and panels. The latest occasion, a presentation titled “Dwelling and Working with a Incapacity,” mentioned navigating disabilities within the office for Nationwide Incapacity Employment Consciousness Month 2022.

Sussman, nevertheless, stated that she has had hassle discovering ample help for her incapacity at Kenyon — the Workplace of Variety, Fairness and Inclusion (ODEI) has no packages particularly aimed toward college students with disabilities. She hopes that DISCO can take steps to vary that, including that she had already had some success: Earlier this yr, DISCO labored with SASS in establishing a pre-orientation program for college students with disabilities and persistent sicknesses, which was an important success.

Though “Disabled & Chronically In poor health Help Group” existed as an unofficial pupil group final yr, Sussman took the steps to make it an official group within the fall after her optimistic expertise at its conferences, saying that the group gave her an area to precise her Experiences with an invisible incapacity in a shared neighborhood.

“At a faculty like Kenyon, having a incapacity felt like one thing I wanted to cover and overcome. I felt like I had tricked somebody to get to Kenyon, and that displaying my incapacity may imply displaying I did not actually belong. Fortunately, by way of speaking with different college students with disabilities and or persistent sicknesses, I used to be capable of finding a neighborhood of people that accepted me and understood me,” Sussman wrote in an all-student electronic mail promoting the group.

Sussman seems ahead to partnering with different campus workplaces and organizations—reminiscent of ODEI and the Cox Well being and Counseling Heart—to broaden DISCO’s scope because the group develops. She added that together with broader campus-wide initiatives, DISCO strives to supply particular person college students with private assets, such because the instruments to advocate for themselves when asking for extensions or excused absences.

She urged college students to not let worries that they do not match the outline of “disabled” preserve them from attending conferences, encouraging anybody who self-identifies as having a incapacity or persistent sickness to hitch. “This can be a actually good place to determine whether or not the following tips apply to you [and] whether or not you may want entry to this neighborhood,” she stated in an interview with the collegian.

Conferences will alternate between digital and in-person to accommodate immunocompromised college students, and can embody discussions, community-building and planning initiatives to convey extra inclusivity and accessibility to Kenyon. Round 10 college students confirmed as much as the primary assembly, and Sussman predicts this quantity will develop.

“There are a whole lot of nice assets at Kenyon, however proper now they don’t seem to be being directed in direction of college students with disabilities/persistent sicknesses,” Sussman wrote in an electronic mail to the collegian. “I hope that by way of DISCO different college students are capable of share their experiences and direct their energies in direction of altering the techniques round them fairly than themselves.”

College students considering becoming a member of DISCO’s electronic mail checklist can contact Sussman at sussman3@kenyon.edu.

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