Disability is one of the seven identities included in discussions about diversity, but it is not well represented at the administrative level on campus. Existing student organizations (DiversAbility, Best Buddies, Active Minds), as well as the Academic Resource Center and the GU Center for Child and Human Development, offer only limited engagement on disability issues and frequently operate as silos.
DiversAbility focuses primarily on promoting disability awareness for students; Best Buddies facilitates relationships between students and community members with developmental and intellectual disabilities; Active Minds promotes conversations about mental health disabilities and students; the ARC facilitates academic and housing accommodations for students with disabilities, and sometimes provides programming around academic support needs; and the GU-CCHD is primarily a community outreach center and research institution that engages very little with the folks on campus. There is no unifying, administration-funded and student-supported center that exists both to support and empower Georgetown’s disability community writ large.
A Disability Cultural Center would provide the unifying, central point on campus for all disability-related coursework, student organizations, administrative offices, research initiatives, and community outreach. It provides both social and academic programming to all community members in the context of a disability rights activism movement and a disability studies interdisciplinary scholarship in order to create a culture of inclusion and provide a safe space for disabled Georgetown community members and allies to have meaningful and necessary conversations. A DCC would serve as a resource and support for students, faculty, and staff with disabilities as well as interested and allied community members.
Additionally, the first university to have a DCC was Syracuse University, which has traditionally been our rival. The second in the nation will be opening at the University of Washington—Seattle this November. With our emphasis on social justice and empowering marginalized communities, it makes sense that Georgetown should establish a DCC.