The ASUC Disabled Students Ad Hoc Committee, or DSC, was established as an ASUC commission Oct. 14, granting it a larger platform to advocate for UC Berkeley students with disabilities.
As a commission, DSC will now have a permanent location within the ASUC, which grants it a minimum of $3,000 in yearly funding, according to a DSC statement. With this elevated status, leaders of disability organizations aim to connect and work toward their goal to fully integrate students with disabilities into all areas of campus life.
“The overarching mission of the commission is to provide visibility, resources and awareness about the disability community on campus,” said DSC interim chair and campus senior Alena Morales. “We want to provide and create resources that go above ADA compliance that really emphasize and elevate the disability experience.”
The committee formed in May 2019 when student organizations such as the Student Coalition for Disability Rights and the Disabled Student Leaders Coalition unified in a collaborative effort to build their community, according to Morales.
About one year later, Morales and her co-creators decided to take the “natural next step” and become a commission, according to DSC secretary and campus senior Josh Lavine.
To be “intentionally accommodating” for those whose disabilities may temporarily prevent them from performing their duties, DSC submitted a resolution to amend the ASUC commission bylaw that prohibits co-chairs within commissions, according to Morales.
“It’s important that we fashioned our structure around accommodation and community values because the institution that we’re up against does not value us or have our disability justice ideals in mind,” Morales alleged.
Morales added that historically, students with disabilities have been removed from decisions being made about them. This has cemented the idea that students with disabilities have no autonomy and are seen as a “medical liability,” according to Morales.
To combat these narratives, DSC has created advisory committees with the school and within the ASUC, including an inclusion committee within the Recreational Sports Facility and the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on disability access and planning.
Stigmas surrounding students with disabilities also often lead to feelings of isolation, according to Morales. Lavine said finding this community was “meaningful” and that DSC aims to involve more people.
DSC wants to elevate the idea that being disabled is an “intersectional sociocultural identity,” Morales said. As such, it is the responsibility of the institution, she added, to accommodate students with disabilities and allow them to succeed.
According to Morales, DSC wants to abolish the idea that academia has to be “ableist.” The competitive environment this facilitates informs disabled students that their disabilities are disadvantages, Morales added.
“Your disability is not something that holds you back from being academically successful at Berkeley,” Morales said. “Your disability is a contributing factor to your success.”