The Multicultural Center hosted its first State of Disability event in collaboration with the Disability Alliance — bringing campus leaders together to address what it’s like being a part of Cal Poly’s disability community, the group said on Instagram.
“We had a pretty good turnout,” communication studies junior and Disability Alliance head M.W. Kaplan said. “There were a lot of people from the community, like a good amount of people that didn’t go to Cal Poly, so that was really exciting.”
The “State of” series are panel events where students and staff engage in vital discussions concerning a community, such as the State of Southwest Asian and North African (SWANA) and the State of Indigeneity. As with most of the “State of” events, many faculty and administration members were in attendance. Afterward, those staff members even sent emails expressing their gratitude for hosting such an event and that they took notes of what was discussed, according to Kaplan.
Panelists discussed how, before coming to Cal Poly and meeting other disabled people, they didn’t have a sense of identity as part of the disability community, Kaplan said.
“They didn’t know anyone else that was dealing with things similar to what they were dealing with,” Kaplan said. “So it was really nice, having everyone talking about both the things that we’ve accomplished and just like having found a greater sense of community.”
Kaplan believes the “State of Disability” will become an annual event, like other “State of” events.
“I was in charge of doing the slideshow and I actually named it “State of Disability 2022” to try and kind of manifest [one for] next year, but I definitely think it will continue,” Kaplan said.
The Disability Alliance is also proposing a Disability Cultural Program and are seeking student testimonials to include in the proposal. The program would “provide social events, disability education, accessible academic services, well-being sources and more,” according to an Instagram post.
The Disability Cultural Program would function the same way other cultural programs and organizations do at Cal Poly, Kaplan said. For example, hosting events such as Polycultural Weekend and CultureFest, and raising awareness about identity and culture like the Pilipino Cultural Exchange (PCE).
The program is modeled after UC Berkeley’s Disability Cultural Center (DCC), which is one of the few campuses in the US to have a DCC, Kaplan said. The Disability Alliance is hoping to add Cal Poly to the short list.
Currently, the Disability Resource Center (DRC) handles all of the programming regarding disability at Cal Poly. The Disability Alliance hopes to focus more on the cultural aspect of the disability community, but doesn’t want to “[have] the DRC [shoulder] that because the DRC is designed to meet legal compliance requirements,” according to Kaplan.
“We want to move beyond just [the] bare minimum legal compliance,” Kaplan said. “And toward more … cultural appreciation.”