By Laurel Schwartz ’15Politics Columnist
Step into the SCORE living room and you will find a variety of resources of empowerment with respect to class, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexuality and sexual orientation. However, for many students, this is not enough. As someone with a chronic autoimmune disease (I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was nine years old), I have become increasingly aware of the lack of support for disabled students in the Scripps community.
With SCORE acting as a valuable resource for students who are members of many groups, I have outlined why it is imperative that SCORE recognize disability as well.
1. “Ableism” is defined as the following: a societal world-view that the able bodied are the norm in society and that disabled people must either strive to become that norm or keep their distance from able-bodied people. Failing to acknowledge disability at Scripps is inherently ableist because the community systematically ignores the disabled experience. Lack of acknowledgement and discussions surrounding disability presumes that disabled individuals must strive to become the norm of able-bodied people.
2. Upon organizing a panel discussion about disability at Scripps, it came to my attention that many members of our community are unaware of ableism on campus. Students are ignorant and unaware because disability is not officially recognized in a context outside of the Dean of Students Office. Publically acknowledging disability and ableism would not only help disabled students feel more welcome on campus but would also educate the Scripps community.
3. Disabled students would benefit greatly from the resources given to other student groups. Many groups have a physical space in SCORE, a faculty advisor and a budget for programming. Disabled students have none of these resources. With a physical space, disabled students would be able to gather for meetings, fostering a community of disabled students. With a faculty advisor, students would have better resources to communicate with professors and navigate receiving accommodations. With a budget, disabled students would be able to organize events to raise awareness and create a dialogue about disability.
Recognition of disability would send a strong message to the student body. This message would create a community of disabled students and a community of allies. There is currently a 5C club called Disability, Illness and Difference Alliance that allows students to gather to support each other, but it is clear to me that something more needs to be done on Scripps’ campus specifically. A panel discussion a few weeks ago revealed that many students are actively searching for disability resources, yet finding them either unavailable or inaccessible. As a small community that does so much to try to create open dialogues about race, gender and class, we can—and must—open a dialogue about disability on our campus.