Potential SIG seeks disability advocacy and inclusivity

By MacKenzie Brady

Student Life Editor

Washington College may soon have a new Student Interest Group on campus, based on the number of students who attended one of the two interest meetings held last week about DREAM. 

DREAM, which stands for disability rights, education, activism, and mentoring, is a national organization for and by college students with disabilities. According to their mission statement, DREAM “is charged with the mission of advancing the interests of students with disabilities, in post-secondary institutions, and their allies across the United States.”

At the interest meetings, held on Monday, Nov. 11 and Tuesday, Nov. 12 in the Egg, Elizabeth Shirk, the Disability Access Specialist at WC, talked about some of the benefits of having a chapter of DREAM, including tackling some of campus’s accessibility issues. 

Shirk mentioned some accessibility issues students had come to her about, including decorative streamers on railings and banisters making it harder for disabled students to use them. 

“DREAM advocates for student rights, increased accessibility, social and policy change, and aims to provide support and mentorship to local campus disability groups and individual students,” the website says.  

“[DREAM is] really what students want it to do with it,” Shirk said at the interest meeting, encouraging those in attendance to think about what they were interested in DREAM doing for them. 

Shirk is hoping to get the group up and running in the next few weeks so they can put together an event on Dec. 3, which is the international day of disabled persons. This event will be in collaboration with Intercultural Affairs. More detailed information is to come. 

This is not the first time students have been interested in getting a chapter of DREAM at WC, but “it sounds like Senate is excited for us,” Shirk said. 

“The success of the DREAM chapter at WC relies mostly on the students who become members of the group. I will provide support in any way I can to help them with their mission and goals for DREAM, but it will ultimately come down to student involvement,” Shirk said. 

Once DREAM gains SIG status, and shows that students are interested and actively participating in the group, it will be eligible to apply to become a club, and if approved, can begin the process of officially becoming a chapter of DREAM. 

Once it is an established chapter of DREAM, the club will begin to receive a monthly digital care package with resources to support the group’s activities and growth, be linked with other DREAM chapters to coordinate with other campuses across the country, reduce registration fees to attend DREAM national Disabled and Proud conferences, and help with setting up a website. 

 Students interested in joining DREAM should email Shirk to get added to the outlook group at lshirk2@washcoll.edu. 

The group is still looking for members to join its executive board. Aside from the executive duties associated with those positions, those on the exec board would also have access to additional training programs held by DREAM. 

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