37°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Center for Students With Disabilities Holds Open House

Tucked away in the new student center building is the Center for Students with Disabilities. On November 3, 2004 the center held their first open house to welcome students back for the 2004-2005 academic year.

Coordinator Chris described the event as “an opening ceremony” because the center was without a coordinator until recently. “I wanted to let everybody know that we’re open and that there is somebody here. I want to encourage people to come in and hang out,” stated Chris.

“I’ve always been active around people with disabilities and an advocate,” stated Chris about her new position as center coordinator. Previous to holding the position, Chris worked as an intern at the Institute for Community Inclusion, addressing the different issues that the diverse members of the UMB community may face during their education.

Chris stated that the goal for the event was for UMB students to “meet the new coordinator and to meet with one another-this is a meet and greet event.” In addition, this event was meant to “wake UMB students up to the diversity in their community.”

Chris also wanted UMB students to “know where we’re located.” Previous to the building of the Campus Center, the Center for Students with Disabilities was located in McCormack right by the Ross Center.

The center was decorated with pamphlets and sheets informing students about referral services informing students about rights and services available to them as members of the UMB community.

Students visiting the open house had the opportunity to meet and greet with fellow students over punch and pastries. The open house went from 1-3pm and was intended to allow students to come in freely between classes, even if the visit was brief.

In the mission statement, the Center for Students with Disabilities states that their mission is to “assist students with special needs in the pursuit of educational goals by providing the resources and guidance necessary to complete their baccalaureate or graduate degree.” The center has a confidentiality policy. “Whatever you say in here will always be confidential.”

Chris emphasized the social intent of the center. “Our center focuses on arts and entertainment. We want students to spend their leisure time here. This is a place for people to come and study, hang out, take a break from classes and relax at the tables and couches. They can use the computers. This is not a place to focus on the stressful issues.”

Since the center got off to a bit of a late start, Chris has not wasted any time in getting activities for the center up and running. The first program on Chris’s agenda is to get a sensitivity campaign running.

The sensitivity campaign involves the assistance of the other centers in the Student Life area. Other coordinators and members have been actively helping Chris dress the university classrooms and the buses with what she called “one-liners” about “proper etiquette around people with disabilities.”

Some of the one-liners include: “Do not cross in front of a person with a cane,” “Do not grab or touch a person who is blind. Please ask if they need assistance first,” and “Do not ask someone if they are taking medication.” The sensitivity awareness campaign “is really meant to create an awareness-to create reminders about things people might already know but might not actually do.”

In reference to her new job, Chris happily stated “I’ve only been here a few weeks and I love it.”

The Center for Students with Disabilities is located on the third floor of the Campus Center, 3001. The center can also be reached at (617) 287-7965.