By Vaidik Trivedi
The Peer Mental Health Alliance held a Disability Rights protest and march on campus, Wednesday April 10th during campus lifetime, to ensure that many of the swept-under-the-rug issues related to disability services provided by Stony Brook University, is finally heard loud and clear.
The protest march started from the SAC Plaza with chants of “disability rights are humans rights,” and ended with demands to the university administration, to follow the Americans with Disabilities Act without cutting corners and sliding by.
“The campus is not inclusive and they don’t respect or value people with disabilities.” Allilsa Fernandez, The Undergraduate Representative for the President’s ADA Committee, said.
Video: Akanksha Kar ©Kar2019
Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, federally funded agencies are required to “provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in their programs and benefit from their services, including the provision of information to employees and members of the public.”
Yet, all the major SBU events like Homecoming, Brookfest and Roth Regatta are generally hard to access by the disabled students, according to a SBU student with disability who wishes anonymity, said.
Moreover, according to Stony Brook University’s policy, P157: Use of Campus Facilities, states that “availability of reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities must be clearly stated on all brochures, notices, bulletins, advertisements and invitations for seminars and other activities.”
Although Stony Brook University does have a Student Accessibility Support Centre, its help doesn’t reach far beyond. Many buildings on campus that have a disabled accessibility button to open doors, are either broken or exist for show only. Some buildings on campus, are not even accessible for people using a wheelchair.
“The most recent building that was built this year – West J, doesn’t even have a lift,” Emi Brawley, a senior at Stony Brook University, said. “Do they just hate disabled people?”
Buildings like Tubman and Chavez that were built to be handicap-accessible are one of the few buildings that are accessible by wheelchair in its entirety. However, the price to pay is unreasonably steep.
“Stony Brook should make the campus more accessible for people with disability, because we all deserve to have accessibility on campus,” Kayla Berretta, a senior at Stony Brook University said.
Most resident halls that were built before the Americans with Disabilities Act were regulated in 1990, and are barely accessible for the disabled population today.
Residential halls like Cardozo in Roth Quad, have very narrow halls and are quite difficult for people with disability, especially those who use the aid of a wheelchair, to get around in the space.
Stony Brook University has also been under fire for not making their Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) accessible.
“How do you expect a disabled student to access CAPS on the second floor without a functioning elevator?” Fernandez added.
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, prohibits discrimination on the “basis of disability in all services, programs, and activities provided to the public by State and local governments.”
“There have been faculty who have asked for reasonable accommodations and have been denied,” Dr. Pamela Block, Director of Disabilities Studies Concentration at Stony Brook University, said.
According to Block, the university has violated numerous ADA codes and heeds no respect to the disabled population at Stony Brook.