As Boston College students find their way back into the familiar rhythm of classes, homework, and weekend football, Conor McCormick, MCAS ’22, and Nick Claudio, MCAS ’22, are planning to shake things up as the new co-directors for the Undergraduate Government of BC’s Council for Students with Disabilities (CSD).
During their tenure, the duo plans to expand the Disability Services Office, review the current state of accessibility accommodations around campus, and put on programming for the broader student body.
“For the most part, BC is very accommodating but still needs to implement changes to increase accessibility for all students,” McCormick said. “As a council, we hope to identify these features that need to be fixed, shed light on them, and demand change for the betterment of the school.”
In a CSD town hall held last April, several students shared their concern that Rory Stein, the assistant dean of Students with Disabilities, did not have adequate staff support. At the time, Stein said that, with more resources, his office would be able to provide students who need accommodation with more individualized support.
Stein’s main responsibilities are to make sure that the University complies with the Americans with Disability Act and to ensure that students with impairments receive accommodations, such as note takers, extended test times, reserved single dorms, and Eagle Escort services.
Student concerns include Eagle Escort van accessibility—the program enforces a two-a-day limit—and a lack of braille signage around campus, according to McCormick and Claudio.
Disability Services currently employs two part-time graduate assistants to aid the over 600 students who need accommodations. McCormick and Claudio said they have spoken to Caroline Davis, director of Student Outreach and Support Services, about bringing in more support. The University will soon conduct a review of staff needs in the office, they said.
“One of the main issues with making change for CSD is that [while] the University really does want to help and support the students with disabilities, there needs to be action taken alongside that,” Claudio said.
McCormick and Claudio said they are eager to work closely with Michael Osaghae, UGBC president and MCAS ’20, and Tiffany Brooks, UGBC vice president and MCAS ’21, to revamp CSD programming, with a focus on expanding the council’s reach beyond the students who already follow CSD events closely.
“We are very excited to have Conor and Nick lead CSD this year,” Osaghae said in an email to The Heights. “Conor and Nick are extremely passionate about making our campus more equitable for all and they bring a thoughtful and engaging approach to campus advocacy. We are confident in their ability to continue to build CSD’s presence on campus and launch campaigns that will more fully engage our campus community in CSD’s work.”
So far, McCormick and Claudio have planned three preliminary categories of programming: one focused on student outreach, one centered on community outreach, and one addressing policy and accessibility on campus. They are currently selecting students for the council and refining the details of their early events.
McCormick proposed that CSD put on a “Dinner in the Dark” event, at which students could experience a dinner blindfolded. He said that the evening could give the student body a glimpse of the blind experience.
McCormick said he hopes that in the upcoming year CSD’s advocacy will be launched into the mainstream student consciousness.
“As men and women for others, we must attempt to lift up marginalized student populations, showing love and support to those who need it the most,” he said. “As a modern, Jesuit, Catholic university, all faculty, staff, and students should feel heard, understood, accepted, and accommodated.”
Featured Image by Jess Rivilis/Heights Staff