Senate Beat: Nov 7, 2019

Accessibility Committee addresses student concerns and pledges better communication

Last week’s Senate meeting was visited by the Accessibility Committee who dropped in to answer questions and respond to concerns regarding the committee’s line of communication with the student body. Other topics discussed included a consideration on the basis of what defines disabilities at Reed according to the committee, who discussed how to improve campus accessibility. 

After a brief introduction, committee chair and Associate Dean of Students for Academic Life Julie Maxfield opened the floor to anyone in attendance with questions to ask and concerns to voice. Illustrating the committee’s communication issues, student Katherine Draves took to the mic to voice that she wasn’t even aware that this committee existed. Draves continued by asking for clarification on what exactly it is that the committee does. In response, Maxfield noted that she wasn’t surprised by this fact and expressed a desire to address this lack of student awareness. After briefly outlining what the committee looks like, Maxfield proceeded by defining the group’s purpose as seeking to notice issues regarding accessibility around campus, react, and put into motion regulations that remove said complications. She continued by stating that their current goal is to implement a stronger line of communication with students and increase campus awareness so as to provide resources to students with disabilities to the best of their ability. 

Vice President Pixie Freeman then voiced concern regarding what specific plans the committee had to move forward with, and wanted to know how the committee is interacting with other groups. In a slightly unsatisfying manner, the committee stated their desire to turn said question to the students in order to gain their perspective on the best perceived way to spread information across the student body. Almost immediately, an audience member cited Student Body President Pax Lloyd-Burchett’s delightfully informative and entertaining SB info emails as both a quick and easy resource with a wide outreach that should be considered. They continued in turn by asking how the committee chooses to define “disability.” Maxfield responded that disability is most commonly defined in terms of physical challenges, but the committee also seeks to provide accommodations for students with mental disabilities and that although a diagnosis is required in order for a student to receive said accommodations, there are resources that can help you begin this process. Additionally, the committee members wanted to encourage that if students ever feel they might be in a position to receive accommodations, resources are available to them and that they should never feel scared or uncomfortable reaching out.

Just as Lloyd-Burchett chose to raise the presidential gavel, an act that has everyone in attendance was conditioned to feel excitement for, he remembered to initiate a vote to pass the new hazing policy; And so it was passed and the meeting concluded.

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