The experience of students seeking academic and physical accommodation varies, but many encounter lack of communication, long wait times and poor service.
By Rebekah Zelico— email@example.com
Many UC Davis students with disabilities go through the process of obtaining housing at the UC Davis Student Disability Center (SDC) to make their academic experience easier.
According to SDC website“The Student Disability Center (SDC) is designated to receive requests for accommodations, approve services, and coordinate support for students with disabilities to create equitable access to college education programs. It’s a campus unit.”
According to director Jennifer Bill, SDC is responsible for a variety of services and accommodations for students. Accommodation requirements for students with disabilities range from extended exams to transportation services.
“The net is pretty wide,” said Bill. “We are the office that handles disability requests from students.
However, student experiences at SDC are not always positive. Her junior in physics, Sonia Romanova, injured her neck ahead of the fall 2022 semester. She contacted her SDC to find her accommodation, but she found the experience difficult.
“It was easy to get in touch with them, but not easy to get in touch with,” says Romanova. “They are less attractive in terms of how they can help you. They can give you information, but there’s not much they can do to enforce consideration.”
Romanova searched for online accommodations for coding classes that were being offered online during the COVID-19 pandemic. She was eventually denied the online course.
“Obviously, if it was a chemistry lab, they wouldn’t be able to send me hydrochloric acid, so I couldn’t handle it,” Romanova said. “But like we did online during COVID, it was a coding lab.”
The reasons behind the lack of accommodation further accentuated Romanova’s frustration.
“They are unable to accommodate me online during COVID, even though I was teaching these classes online because, in their words, ‘online teaching was not up to par. It was,” Romanova said. “Essentially, the university admits that the quality of teaching was not good during COVID even though we paid full tuition. may have been used for
The inflexibility of the physics department wasn’t the only thing Romanova complained about. She also said she experienced a lack of response from SDC.
“I contacted them three weeks before the quarter and they contacted me one week before the quarter,” says Romanova. “It’s not necessarily their fault, but they lack the ability to improve the situation for many students with disabilities. Maybe they’re understaffed or underfunded. I don’t know.”
Romanova had to take two-quarters of her academic leave due to lack of accommodation and slow communication.
Despite Romanova’s experience, Bill insists SDC sticks to a responsive schedule.
I don’t want people to wait too long. Quarters move very quickly,” said Bill. “It’s an internal process. We review a student’s request and assign it to a specialist on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, so practically always she’s within two working days.”
Many of the disconnects between students and SDC tend to occur due to jurisdictional issues. Students with disabilities face many challenges in higher education, and SDC has a responsibility to provide academic accommodation.
Morgan Babauta, a sophomore majoring in Business Economics and Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning, experienced firsthand how these jurisdictional breaks affect students with disabilities.
“I was on crutches before and after surgery because I tore my anterior cruciate ligament and needed surgery,” Babauta said. “It was not easy for me to go to school because I could not ride a bicycle.
Babauta’s foot injury made it difficult for her to commute to school, so she asked SDC for transportation.
“I filled out the pre- and post-op paperwork and submitted it to SDC,” Babauta said. “My doctor had a hard time diagnosing my injury, so he didn’t have a doctor’s note until he was a week on crutches.”
Despite a grace period of three days, Babauta was unable to obtain the necessary transport services for this specialty.
“SDC actually refused my transport because I didn’t have a doctor’s note right away,” Babauta said. “But the problem is [that] I had to go to class immediately. ”
Ms. Babauta was eventually able to fill out all the paperwork, but was still unable to receive transportation services.
“The website allows us to schedule pick-up and transportation times,” says Babauta. “I did it about three times and never heard back from them.”
SDC’s official role is to secure academic accommodation, and transportation services are arranged by a separate campus organization, Bill said.
“Our business is academic accommodation,” Bill said. “We set up the accommodation, but the transfer service is responsible for the transfer.”
The SDC is responsible for setting up the academic facilities, but Babauta realizes he has to make his own arrangements.
“My academic considerations were entirely between me and my professors, not through SDC,” said Babauta. “I stayed home until the finals and emailed my professor so I could take classes remotely.”
Other students, including third-year sociology student Amara Aimufua, found that the necessary accommodations were met accordingly.
“I tore my Achilles tendon in June 2022,” Aim Hua said. “Fortunately, I have his ADD, so he’s already familiar with SDC. [had] During my summer to find my accommodation.
Aimufua received both academic accommodation and transportation services during her time at UC Davis.
But Aim Hua also had some difficulties.
“There was a gap between SDC transportation and TAPS services, and I had to go there by myself, which was really annoying,” Aim Hua said. “His first week of school was late and there weren’t enough drivers. If I could avoid that problem, I would ride my bike more often. Whether it’s safe or not.” I don’t know.”
Bill said SDC’s mission is to help students with disabilities have the best possible academic experience, and the reported difficulties were not an intended result.
“Our goal is not to create barriers for students, but to try to make them work,” Bill said. “And when things go wrong, I ask my students to come back. […] We work with a wide range of disabilities. Our goal is therefore to help our students and provide support so that their academic experience is not hindered. ”
Written by: Rebekah Zelico — firstname.lastname@example.org