Disability Rights, Education Activism and Mentoring program demands disability studies at SF State
The SF State student organization believes that incorporating disability studies will help improve graduation rates and employment among disabled students.
October 14, 2022
The SF State chapter of the student organization DREAM released a statement expressing disappointment in the lack of disability studies at SF State.
DREAM is a national organization with several chapters across the country, for and by college students with disabilities. It is open to students of all ages with any kind of disability, as well as non-disabled allies and peers.
“As students at San Francisco State University, we write to express our disappointment at the lack of disability studies on our campus and urge you to support and increase curriculum and courses on this topic,” DREAM said in a statement. “We offer many majors committed to serving disabled people, but without disability studies, we are failing to adequately prepare students to be the best supporters of disabled communities.”
According to the statement, studies across the nation show that disabled students have lower rates of graduation than non-disabled students. Additionally, disabled individuals face higher rates of unemployment and discrimination in the workplace compared to their non-disabled peers.
In February of this year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that only 27.7% of disabled college graduates were employed, while 73.2% of non-disabled graduates were employed.
“Having access to disability studies and a rich disability community on campus can improve retention rates by fostering pride and helping students see their disabilities as an asset, support skill and network building for graduates, and further support SFSU’s mission of social justice for marginalized groups,” DREAM said in its statement.
SF State’s Disability Programs and Resource Center currently serves over 2,500 students by providing classroom accommodations and support to disabled students, staff and faculty. This number excludes disabled students who are not registered because they do not need accommodations, as well as those who have undiagnosed disabilities.
DREAM believes that many of these students would benefit from the inclusion of disability studies.
“Disability studies allows me to fight for social justice with an understanding of how ableism is entrenched within American society, while at the same time celebrating disabled joy and community,” said an unnamed SF State student in DREAM’s statement. “I can only think of the number of students who would be positively impacted if these opportunities were available on a campus level.”
According to DREAM officer Januario Rosa, other colleges have already taken action toward making disability representation within academics.
“Other CSUs and UCs, they’re developing disability studies,” Rosa said. “We’re in San Francisco, one of the most diverse cities in America, and our university doesn’t even have a program on the studies of something that affects almost a quarter of the population? It really doesn’t make any sense.”
CSUs such as Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Channel Islands are among those who have already incorporated disability studies. Cal State Long Beach offers a graduate program which can be applied to many fields including education, healthcare and social work. Cal State Channel Islands offers disability studies as a master’s degree.
DREAM hopes that the statement will be utilized as a tool in potential future conversations about introducing disability studies at SF State.
“In creating it, we weren’t necessarily thinking about one specific person or department,” said DREAM Communications Director Nathan Burns. “We wanted it more to establish not just our position in favor of disability studies on campus, but to serve as an asset for people who are doing that bureaucratic work, paperwork and whatever else it takes to formally request these sorts of changes.”
The complete statement by DREAM can be found here.