Scripps College’s Motley Coffeehouse turned into a classroom for a teach-in organized by the Disability, Illness, and Difference Alliance (DIDA). The event began with a lecture called Disability 101, presented by Eden Amital SC '17, which was followed by a panel discussion and Q&A session moderated by Aidan Harley SC '16.
Students on the panel discussed how they are affected by, and take pride in, their disabilities, as well as the difficulties that come with having a disability as a college student. Many of these difficulties could be traced back to professors, classmates, and friends who do not understand their disabilities. One student described feeling singled out when, during class, her professor asked the students with time accommodations for a test to raise their hands.
Amital said that she hoped to challenge dominant narratives about disability and the way that disability is treated on campus and in society.
“Folks don’t have a good understanding of disability justice and disability politics, and see disability as the medical model of framing disabilities, so a disabled individual needs to cure their disability in order to become human,” she said.
At the teach-in, DIDA also presented a list of “asks,” or suggestions, to make the Claremont community more accommodating for disabled individuals. They suggested having more golf cart rides available for injured students, meal replacements at all schools, consultation with DIDA for any organizations hosting campus-wide events, more funding and trained staff at Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services, and the addition of a disability studies major and department.
“It’s always really useful to hear the lived experiences,” said Cleo Spencer PO '16, who attended the panel. “I think that it was a good start to making the conversation on campus around disability centered around those who face discrimination or lack of access.”
Spencer said that she would like to see more events like the teach-in in the future.
“It reminded me of the panels that the Mental Health Alliance puts on,” she said. “Having something similar with people with disabilities focused around disability justice is really great to see.”
Amital said that while she would like to do more work, it can be difficult for DIDA members to organize educational events.
“DIDA always wants to do more work,” she said. “At the same time, it’s exhausting because disabled people and folks from all sorts of marginalized communities are often responsible for educating the greater, more privileged community about their experiences, which is just something to keep in mind about these events.”