UGBC’s Council for Students with Disabilities (CSD) honored Disability Awareness Week with four events—from rock painting to a student panel—to spotlight disabilities and how they affect the student experience at Boston College.
“It’s very important to bring awareness for all disabilities on a college campus such as this, and this week we’re trying to just bring awareness for all different types of disabilities,” said Catherine Cheevers, a CSD legacy programmer who helped plan this week’s events and MCAS ’23.
The student panel, which was held on Wednesday, featured three student speakers. Marne Sullivan, MCAS ’23, Conor McCormick, MCAS ’22, and Sarah Farnan, MCAS ’23, shared their experiences as individuals with disabilities at BC.
Sullivan, who was born deaf and underwent cochlear implant surgery as an infant, said she sees her disability as a positive aspect of her life rather than an obstacle.
“I think for disabilities in general, like people tend to focus on the loss or absence of something,” Sullivan said. “I haven’t lost anything by being deaf. I think for me, it’s a new perspective of the world and new different kinds of living.”
According to Farnan, when she was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in high school, she struggled to accept her condition. At BC, however, Farnan said she embraced her disability as a part of her identity.
“You realize that you kind of have to stand in solidarity with other people and you realize that there are roadblocks for me and there are roadblocks for my friends and other people who I’ve met along the way,” Farnan said. “So, I think just embracing that community and advocating for not only yourself, but also the people around you is a huge thing.”
McCormick, a member of CSD and UGBC’s chief of staff, said that BC provided him with a safe and welcoming transition to college as a part of the disability community. Although McCormick said the adjustment was not perfect, he expressed gratitude toward BC.
“Social scenes are kind of limited,” McCormick said. “So, I guess in that way, I felt like I was excluded a little bit or had to create my own spaces and things like that. But in terms of do I feel welcome, do I feel included? Absolutely.”
McCormick also encouraged BC students with disabilities to take advantage of the wide variety of resources available at BC.
“Get connected to the disability services offices or Connors Family Learning Center, just as a home base or [as] advocates because they’re always people to look back to if you’re not getting what you need,” McCormick said.
McCormick said the CSD successfully passed a resolution through the Student Assembly last semester calling for a more accessible pathway to Upper Campus. The pathway has been in the works for years and members of the CSD are hoping these changes will foster a more inclusive community at BC, McCormick said.
“I realized I wanted to be an advocate through working with CSD and through seeing the physical changes we could make on campus together … and seeing that … there’s power in numbers,” McCormick said. “There’s power when we work together to activate change.”
Cheevers said she hopes that Disability Awareness Week and the student panel event help lessen the stigma surrounding disabilities.
“Some of our events are focused on one specific type [of disability], but this [the student panel] was just really about, you know, the stigma of disabilities … and making sure the conversations about it are more comfortable and inclusive.”