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Who Are We?


Wesleyan Students for Disability Rights is a student group committed to promoting awareness of disability issues on campus, and to work towards the acceptance and inclusion of people of all abilities and disabilities at Wesleyan and in the wider world. We were founded in the fall of 2008.

In spring 2013, our weekly meetings are on Tuesday at 6 pm in Allbritton 004 (222 Church St., Middletown, CT).

Ok, that's great, so what do we actually do?
In 2009-2010, we created a "Statement of Needs and Goals" (see link at left) that addresses the changes we feel are needed at Wesleyan University to create a culture of accessibility. We've been working with faculty, administrators, staff, and students to make these changes happen.

We also advocate for the advancement of Disability Studies as an academic discipline at Wesleyan. In 2011, Disability Studies became a Wesleyan Course Cluster.

We also hold a number of events for the student body, such as: 
  • Campus Activism
    • Medical leave policy at Wesleyan
    • Bike storage accessibility with tickets for inappropriately locked bikes
    • Residential life and library policies relating to accommodations and accessible spaces
    • Petitioning of student government for a quiet, low-sensory eating space
  • Movie screenings
  • Speakers
    • "Self Notary Public" Christine Sun Kim, Deaf sound artist and composer (Spring 2013)
    • "The Sense of Sensitivity" April Scheller, Mad Pride activist and Middletown resident (Spring 2012)
    • "TV for the Blind: An Improbable Legislative Story" Laurie Everett, Co-Founder and Director of Descriptive Video Service (DVS) (Spring 2012)
    • "The Autism Culture War: Dueling Narratives About Autism in American Public Life." Ari Ne'eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (Fall 2011)
    • "Moving Beyond Pity and Inspiration: Disability as a Social Justice Issue." Eli Clare, scholar/activist and author of Exile and Pride: Queerness, Disability and Liberation and The Marrow's Telling. This workshop took place in conjunction with a Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies symposium entitled "Embattled Bodies: Feminist Disability Studies," featuring Eli Clare and Nirmala Erevelles. (Fall 2010)
    • "Drug Policy and Disability Rights." Jesse Stout, drug policy reform activist and founder of the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Network (Fall 2010)
    • "Disability Law." Ted Kennedy Jr., disability rights lawyer and advocate (Spring 2010)
    • "Neurodiversity: The Idea, the Movement, and You." Ari Ne'eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (Fall 2009)
    • "Disability Rights and Employment." Melissa Marshall, Executive Director, Advocacy Unlimited, Inc., and ADA/disability awareness trainer. (Spring 2009)
  • Student-Led Workshops
    • "Disabling Language: An Open Discussion on Disabilities at Wes." Part of Wesleyan's New Student Orientation, this workshop engaged participants in a lively conversation about the politics, history, and controversies surrounding language used to talk about disabilities and people with disabilities. (Fall 2010, 2011)
    • "Radical Accessibility." Session in Wesleyan's Social Justice Leadership Conference, Spring 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.
    • Opening Meetings for students and faculty/staff (Spring 2012)
    • Led workshops for Residential Life staff about making Wesleyan accessible for residents and being aware of ableism on campus
  • Vigil for Disabled People Murdered by Family/Caregivers (Spring 2012) 
  • Weekly social gatherings for students with disabilities. 
Want to learn more?
Great! We meet once a week where we usually plan our events (and sometimes even eat!). Newcomers are always welcome! For more information or with any questions, contact us at wesdisabilityrights@gmail.com. Or join our listserv by sending an email to lyris (at) lyris.wesleyan.edu, with a blank subject and the body text "subsribe wsdr".
    
I'm a Wes student or prospective student, and I have a disability (or I think I might)! What do I do?
Awesome, welcome! For accommodations in the classroom and help dealing with professors, a great place to start is with Dean Scott Backer, the interim administrator for services with students with disabilities. Take a look at this page: Student Guide to Disability Services
We in WSDR are also always excited to talk to other disabled folks! We have weekly social/supportive gatherings for students with disabilities, weekly working meetings to change things on campus, and members who would be happy to talk to you one-on-one about whatever is on your mind. For more info or to get in touch with us, contact Oriana Ott at oott@wesleyan.edu.