I am a Stanford student who would benefit from a disability community center on campus. Disabled people represent one of the largest minorities in the human population, and we are greatly under-served on campus. What resources are available (including OAE accommodations) must be actively sought after because there is no centralized place for students (or faculty or staff) who identify as disabled to seek assistance, guidance or community. This is an unnecessary and damaging burden on disabled students.
I know this is damaging because I have lived it. Before coming to campus, I spent seven years in community college, working more than full-time and taking classes on the side, and my illnesses (both physical and mental) were often unaddressed in my work and school environments. I frequently had to struggle hard to seek out and get access to necessary accommodations, but that’s something I (unfortunately) expected in a low-resource environment. I do not want anyone to experience that, but I think it is an especially egregious oversight in a high resource environment like Stanford. A lot is asked of students here and I know many administrators, faculty and staff aim to make student experience their priority, so I cannot quite understand why we do not already have a disability community center except that I think perhaps students who identify as disabled are not having their voices heard. Or maybe they are like me and have gotten used to going without. This is not okay.
I have survived here at Stanford because I was already in the habit of reaching out for accommodations, but it was not until this quarter that I realized how much I needed a disabled community. I took the Intro to Disability Studies course — which I highly recommend — and was struck by the realization that many students here are disabled, and many students are going through the same experiences I am.
My wish for all future disabled Stanford students is that they do not have to wait until their second-to-last quarter to find that community. Please let us make Stanford a welcome and accessible home for disabled students.
— Cat Sanchez ’19
Contact Cat Sanchez at catsan ‘at’ stanford.edu.