GUSA announces support of Disability Cultural Center

On Monday, GUSA announced its support of the creation of a Disability Cultural Center (DCC) at Georgetown. Lydia Brown (COL ’15), the GUSA Undersecretary for Disability Affairs, has circulated a petition to garner student support for a center to educate students on disability rights activism and its surrounding culture. President Trevor Tezel (SFS ’15) and Vice President Omika Jikaria (SFS ’15) endorsed her idea, calling her efforts an “important initiative”.

Currently, no administrative-level office recognizes disability as diversity at Georgetown, as Brown emphasized in an email to Vox.

“Despite numerous difficulties with underfunding, understaffing, and lack of visibility, the university nevertheless recognizes the need for safe spaces for students of color, women students, and queer and trans student through the CMEA, Women’s Center, and LGBTQ Resource Center,” Brown said. “Students with disabilities are as much a part of this campus as other underrepresented and marginalized groups, and we deserve at least the same recognition.”

Despite the drive and passion behind her mission, Brown notes that attempts to create the DCC have been an uphill battle. “In over two and a half years, the administration has yet to voice even the most noncommittal support for the proposal, let alone commit to a concrete timeline for creating a DCC,” she wrote.

Tezel agreed with the inadequacies that Brown pointed out in her email. “The overriding goal of the DCC is to finally get Hoyas (students, faculty and administrators) to treat disability as a diversity issue,” he wrote. “[It] would provide a forum for disabled students and allies to come together for support, programming around disability justice and rights and serve as a jumping off point for disabled students to form the community that is currently lacking on campus.”

Only three universities in the world have Disability Cultural Centers; the possibility of a DCC holds potential for Georgetown’s reputation. “We claim to be a leader in innovation and ‘designing the future’, yet we have not seized a clear opportunity for world leadership,” Brown writes.

Despite the resistance the proposal has met from the Georgetown administration, numerous parties had expressed their support for Brown’s movement in addition to Tezel and Jikaria. Students at the Georgetown Law center, faculty teaching disability studies, several alumni and three consecutive GUSA administrations endorse the DCC.

As different actors lend their voices to this diversity campaign, Brown says, “We have many people to thank for their continued allyship.”

Photo: The Georgetown Voice via flickr

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