OPINION: The Student Disability Resource Center is failing us

Two hands pull back a red rug, which covers a hole with another hand sticking out. Another set of hands sweeps a ladder under the rug, which is tangled with a banner that reads parts of "Academic Accommodations."
(Katherine Tan • The Student Life)

The Student Disability Resource Center (SDRC) at the Claremont Colleges claims to foster an inclusive and supportive learning environment — but reality has disproved this assertion. The SDRC is an on-campus resource meant to assist students during their academic journeys at the Claremont Colleges by providing academic accommodations, mediating between students and professors while training faculty to work effectively with students with learning disabilities. However, they aren’t living up to these goals — and students with disabilities are taking on the burden of the SDRC’s shortcomings. 

Brae Hubbard is one such student who felt affected by this. Hubbard, who entered with the class of 2025, was hopeful that she would succeed at Pitzer College, especially after the college personalized her acceptance letter with the following note: “Your passion for equity and equality in the education system screams Pitzer, and we’re beyond excited to have you joining our community!” However, Hubbard’s experience here was far from equitable. 

Hubbard experienced many academic injustices throughout her year at the 5Cs. She once asked her professors if she could use a computer program that records lectures to compensate for the absence of a notetaker. None of her professors consented to being recorded. Other examples of academic injustice include receiving advice from a professor to drop out of a course because he could not accommodate her learning style and running out of time while taking STEM exams because student workers at the SDRC fumbled through reading unfamiliar terminology aloud to her. 

In Hubbard’s words, she felt “unsupported and unwanted by an institution that [she] wanted to be at so bad.” Following the 2021-2022 academic year, she returned to Pitzer in fall 2022 with hopes of overcoming her challenges with the SDRC. After a week of classes, she was not provided with accommodations or her computer reading program and decided to leave the Claremont Colleges.

Hubbard’s story is not an isolated one at the Claremont Colleges. For a collection of schools that preach inclusivity, the Claremont Colleges are neglecting an entire group of past, present and future students by not adequately funding the SDRC. Educational equity means that all students are supplied the resources and support they individually need to succeed. In an educationally-equitable space, that means resources for success across race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, family background and/or income brackets. 

First and foremost, students with learning disabilities deserve and are entitled to work with trained professionals rather than the students who currently make up most of SDRC staff. The space is also in need of more technology to assist processes such as scanning textbook pages into reading programs. Additionally, the cooperation between the SDRC and professors needs institutional enforcement: 504 plans must be honored and students should not have to wait until the end of the two-week “shopping period” to receive accommodations. 

Also, a comprehensive outline of the SDRC’s resources must be available online because prospective students, like high school senior-aged Hubbard, deserve to know how the 5Cs actually accommodate students before they commit to attend. Brae Hubbard should be the last student to leave because of issues receiving accommodations — but unless the Claremont Colleges commit to properly funding, properly resourcing and properly valuing the work of the SDRC, there’s no guarantee she will. 

Annika White PZ ’25 is from Southport, Connecticut. She enjoys hiking, journaling and making playlists on Spotify.

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