26 February 2014

GUSA Exec 2014 Disability Questionnaire: Zach Singer and Dan Silkman

I have condensed the questions, which appeared in long-form in the questionnaire sent to candidates with background information and examples, to highlight each candidate's answer. These are the responses provided by Zach and Dan. You can also read responses from Trevor and Omika, Ben and Sam, and Thomas and Jimmy.

Image description: Dan Silkman, a young white man with short brown hair, and Zach Singer, a young white man with short blondish brown hair, smiling at the camera and sitting in front of the gray stone fountain in Dahlgren Quad with the red brick facade of Healy Hall behind them.

ADDENDUM: I received the following email from Megan Murday on behalf of Zach and Dan with a request for a correction.

Hi Lydia,

I am sorry for the imprecision in our initial response to question 1 of your survey.

We never intended to imply that Zach was personally involved in the early stages of No Wrong Door but rather that he was a strong supporter of the project and was ultimately responsible for all projects conducted under the current GUSA executive from the time he became chief of staff last March.

If you are amenable, please feel free to correct the answer as follows:

"Ableism, like all other forms of discrimination and oppression, has no place at Georgetown. We will work closely with interested students to ensure that GUSA is doing everything it can to empower disabled students.

To do so, we will build on the work Zach has already done as a leader of the GUSA executive in listening to interested disabled students and support their activism to student groups and Georgetown administrators.

The formation of a Disability Cultural Center — something we endorse in our platform and explain further in question three — is a critical element in combating ableism and making the Hilltop more welcoming and inclusive. We will prioritize this issue and use our executive to finally secure the university’s commitment to this proposal.

GUSA’s successful No Wrong Door program, the creation of which Zach strongly supported as chief of staff, has already made important strides in making Georgetown more welcoming and inclusive. It is important that Georgetown continue to engage students to understand available resources.

We will use our bully pulpit to expand the program and encourage other student groups and offices that interface with students to take steps to ensure increased inclusiveness in student life."

Again, we regret that the initial version of this seemed to take credit that properly belongs to you or Alyssa Peterson.

Best,
Megan

Question 1

What would you do or change to combat ableism (disability oppression, prejudice against the disabled) and make Georgetown a more welcoming and inclusive campus for disabled students if elected?

Ableism, like all other forms of discrimination and oppression, has no place at Georgetown. We will work closely with interested students to ensure that GUSA is doing everything it can to empower disabled students.

To do so, we will build on the work Zach has already done as a leader of the GUSA executive in listening to interested disabled students and support their activism to student groups and Georgetown administrators.

The formation of a Disability Cultural Center — something we endorse in our platform and explain further in question three — is a critical element in combating ableism and making the Hilltop more welcoming and inclusive. We will prioritize this issue and use our executive to finally secure the university’s commitment to this proposal.

GUSA’s successful No Wrong Door program, the creation of which Zach oversaw as chief of staff, has already made important strides in making Georgetown more welcoming and inclusive. It is important that Georgetown continue to engage students to understand available resources.

We will use our bully pulpit to expand the program and encourage other student groups and offices that interface with students to take steps to ensure increased inclusiveness in student life.

Question 2

What would you do if elected to ensure that conversations and initiatives on diversity, especially those managed or initiated by the GUSA Executive, meaningfully include disability and disabled members of the campus community?

The creation of a GUSA undersecretary for disability affairs was an important element of the staff and cabinet that Zach spearheaded as GUSA chief of staff. However, there is more work to do and we have already begun engaging disabled students to hear their concerns and ideas for making Georgetown a better place for them — and for all of us.

We are also committed to increasing conversations for students – both through What’s A Hoya? and a new, GUSA-backed program to fund more informal conversations on pluralism-related issues — around important topics, including the experiences of disabled students and how to improve them.

Question 3

If elected, what steps will you take to advocate on behalf of a plan to create and sustain a Disability Cultural Center at Georgetown?

We strongly support the creation of a Disability Cultural Center at Georgetown. Unfortunately, GUSA cannot create a Disability Cultural Center alone. Instead, it will require the support of the administration and a detailed plan for how to roll out such a center, staff and house its operations and build its outreach and relevance to campus life.

Working directly with disabled students, we will write out a complete plan, including detailed monetary figures and a clear, comprehensive element of how the center will work. Then, utilizing our experience — the most of any ticket — in working with administrators, we will make our case directly to the decision makers, relying every step of the way on the input, advice and help of disabled students at Georgetown.

Question 4

What steps will you take, if elected, to increase visibility and representation of disabled students (both with apparent and invisible disabilities) in leadership roles on campus, whether in GUSA or elsewhere?

We will renew the role of GUSA undersecretary for disability affairs that Zach helped create in the current executive. Through our Leadership Fund and robust mentorship programs, we hope to be able to recruit interested disabled students for positions with the GUSA executive and senate.

Additionally, we will use our bully pulpit as student leaders to encourage student groups to ensure there are no obstacles that present disabled students from taking on important leadership roles.

Question 5

What steps will you take if elected to investigate the full range of accessibility barriers at Georgetown and advocate for meaningful progress from the administration in addressing them?

We are enthusiastic about pending proposals for a survey on accessibility and a map of campus for inaccessible locations. Both of these steps will provide commendably useful information to guide future advocacy endeavors.

With the results of these surveys, we will publicize the most critical issues, take the concerns of disabled students directly to the administration and remain persistent in encouraging Georgetown’s leadership to rectify these challenges.

Question 6

Conversations about disability that occur in classes, student organization sponsored events, departmental sponsored events, and administration sponsored programming frequently omit the perspectives of disabled people both during the planning process and during the actual event. What would you do if elected to advocate for meaningful inclusion of disabled people in conversations about us on campus?

Although GUSA cannot dictate the practices of student organizations at Georgetown, we can all agree that inclusion of disabled people is critical in all conversations, not just those that address disability issues.

Therefore, we will strongly advise student groups that disability-related programming include disabled students in all phases of production. We will also ensure that any diversity-related programming through What’s A Hoya? or the informal conversation series will be designed by interested disabled students.

We understand that being a good ally is about collaboration and follows the principle of “nothing about us without us.” That will govern our tenure as executive.

6 comments:

  1. "GUSA’s successful No Wrong Door program, the creation of which Zach oversaw as chief of staff, has already made important strides in making Georgetown more welcoming and inclusive."

    ZACH, YOU HAD LITERALLY NOTHING TO DO WITH NO WRONG DOOR. I WILL NOT LET YOU TAKE CREDIT FOR THIS. I CALL BULLSHIT

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No Wrong Door was literally Lydia Brown and Alyssa Peterson.

      Delete
    2. Zach most certainly oversaw the program. You're wrong.

      Delete
  2. Lydia, and all, you need to take a chill pill. Zach worked as Chief of Staff this year and was involved in everything as per his job. The decision to add an Undersecretary for Disability was made before Nate and Adam appointed any other staff - AKA Zach helped push for it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was staying out of the comments, but I'm going to respond here, because the claim is actually false. Zach may very well have strongly supported No Wrong Door, but I know for a fact that he was never personally involved at all in developing it, because I was. Zach was not Chief of Staff over the summer, and I had no contact with him until the academic year had started. Most of the work for NWD happened over the summer. I should know -- NWD was my idea from beginning to finish, and I know who was and was not directly involved in producing it because I had control over that. Zach could have said that he supported the development of NWD, and that may well have been completely accurate. But he did not. Zach played no role in creating, designing, developing, or producing NWD. This is disingenuous and appropriative.

      Delete
  3. FYI -- In any case, Zach and Dan submitted an amended response to Question 1.

    ReplyDelete

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