ASUC Disabled Students Commission discusses accommodation requests, basic needs of students with disabilities

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The ASUC Disabled Students Commission gave updates about its meeting with the Basic Needs Center, a campus resource that provides necessities such as food, transportation, housing and financial aid.

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The ASUC Disabled Students Commission, or DSC, met Friday through Zoom to discuss topics including issues in accommodation requests, redefining basic needs and emergency backup power for students with disabilities.

The Disabled Students Commission was formerly an ad hoc committee until it was established as an ASUC commission Oct. 14.

Alena Morales, interim chair of the commission and a campus senior, spoke about the DSC’s meeting on Oct. 27 with the ASUC Office of the Academic Affairs Vice President, or AAVP. Morales said students have experienced a lack of accommodations from professors during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a student comment form the office sent out.

“Basically, they were saying that it’s just all been kind of bulls—,” Morales said. “We actually might be needing to discuss some more broad things about professors not being held accountable for upholding accommodations.”

Morales added that the AAVP was surprised to learn that students can also face a long waiting list when requesting accommodations because students are required to have a psychological evaluation.

The office was further taken aback by learning that students who take on a reduced course load are not eligible to make it onto the Dean’s List, Morales said.

Students with disabilities can have a reduced course load approved through the Disabled Students’ Program, which is a common request, according to their website.

Morales also told the DSC during the meeting that the AAVP said it is willing to support a resolution the commission is currently developing for students with disabilities to have more access in STEM this semester.

The commission then gave updates about its meeting Oct. 23 with the Basic Needs Center, a campus resource that provides necessities such as food, transportation, housing and financial aid, according to its website.

Josh Lavine, secretary of DSC, said they proposed changes to the definition of basic needs to include a disability perspective.

“The definition thing was important because that’s what determines what is eligible under basic needs, and then therefore the funding that goes into the Basic Needs Center,” Morales said.

She added that this can include necessities such as EpiPens, alcohol wipes, wheelchair repair tools, generators and battery packs.

As for emergency preparedness for disabled students, Lavine informed the DSC that he brought up a concern about the lack of backup power for students with disabilities in cooperative housing with Ella Callow, UC Berkeley’s Americans with Disabilities Act compliance officer, and Alicia Johnson, director of the campus Office of Emergency Management.

Lavine also asked the DSC for opinions about extending support to students with disabilities living off campus in apartments.

“I don’t want to broaden our scope too much, but even people who are not affiliated with the university need power to live,” Lavine said.

Contact Natalie Lu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @natalie_c_lu.