Credit: Coby Chuang | Mustang News

More than a year after their initial launch proposing that Cal Poly implement a Disability Cultural Program (DCP), the Disabilities Alliance club alongside BEACoN Mentors, an undergraduate student research program, has re-launched their advocacy for a DCP.

In January, the team sent out a petition for Cal Poly students, faculty, alumni and SLO community members to sign in support of the implementation of the program. According to Disabilities Alliance club faculty adviser Nicole Jacobs, more than 600 people have already signed the petition. 

The DCP would help build a community for all students, staff and faculty members with disabilities on campus, BEACoN mentee and psychology and ethnic studies senior Cade Creason said. 

“The program would provide social programming, campus wide outreach, academic programming, networking and wellbeing resources for all those involved,” Creason said. “It would allow us to have a space where people can come together and build community to offer programs for those who hold a disability identity here on campus and want to feel more included.” 

Additionally, Jacobs said the team is actively working on finding grants and fundraising in order to fund the program. They are currently filing their proposal at the Institutional Review Board for approval – which reviews and monitors biomedical research involving human subjects – according to Jacobs. 

Eventually, the DCP petition organizers would like to build a Disabilities Cultural Center on campus after implementing the DCP. To do so, the team is working on locating an accessible place on campus for the physical center. 

In contrast to last year’s efforts, Jacobs said she is even more confident in her team’s ability to make greater strides toward their goals due to the increase of student participation in the Disability Alliance club. 

“Based on the recruitment effort that we’ve had at Disability Alliance, the club has grown significantly. We have more people involved and thus we have more human power behind this,” Jacobs said. “The more signatures we get and the more support we have, the more it shows the administration that this is something people would like to see at Cal Poly.”

Political science senior Chau Nguyen is a member of the Disability Alliance club and served as Jacob’s BEACoN mentee last year. She helped compose the first DCP proposal and conducted research about the benefits of having a DCP and DCC by collecting data. Nguyen spent time talking to other universities with these resources already within their campus.  

The DCP would meet the needs of disabled students beyond what’s legally required by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, Chou said. 

“[DCP] would include academic support, social support, self advocacy, education, opportunities and resources that the DRC currently doesn’t provide to students because they don’t have the capacity to do so,” Chou said. “It’s a way to better support students so they feel like they have a better experience at Cal Poly and feel more supported by the school.”

Although ASI amended their bylaws to include a secretary of disabilities for the executive cabinet last year, Creason said providing a supportive campus for students with disabilities is still an area that needs improvement.

“I think Cal Poly has been asking the wrong question this whole time,” Creason said. “The question really shouldn’t be ‘Why?’ but it should be ‘What is preventing us from being a diverse and equitable and inclusive campus?’” 

According to Jacobs, Cal Poly’s VP of Academic Affairs Keith Humphrey said they have no plans to have a DCP or DCC anytime in the future. However, CSU director of student affairs Ray Murillo is very supportive of the effort and would see this as something that could be recreated across all CSU campuses. 

“I don’t think there’s a specific end date as much as we won’t stop until we have a DCC where students can actually go and get the resources that they need,” Jacobs said. “The effort won’t stop until we have it.”

The team hopes to submit their findings to administration showing a need and want for a DCP and DCC, once they gather enough funding for the program through grants and fundraisers.