MEGAN SCHMIDT
MEGAN SCHMIDT

When Heather Artinian (COL ’15) reached out to the Academic Resource Center to request a sign language interpreter for a Georgetown University Student Association-sponsored LSAT prep course, she was issued a flat denial.

Citing budget restraints and a lack of legal obligation, the ARC denied Artinian’s request, consistent with the policy that has necessitated student organizations like the Georgetown University Lecture Fund and GUSA to pay out of pocket for accessibility accommodations for their events.

The ARC’s purpose is to provide academic support services to students, including accommodations for students with disabilities. According to its own website, the center claims that “students who self-identify and provide sufficient documentation of a qualifying disability are entitled to receive reasonable accommodations as a means to participate in programs and activities.”

As implied by this statement’s inclusion of “programs and activities,” limiting the ARC’s accommodations to academic purposes does not fully support disabled students on Georgetown’s campus. Even though academics are an important facet of the Georgetown experience, programming beyond that of academic departments adds tremendously to the intellectual life of any Georgetown student. Whether this programming takes the form of an LSAT preparatory course or a lecture from a notable speaker, ensuring that all students have access to such programming should be a top priority.

As has been its responsibility in all academic and some extracurricular settings, the ARC should assume the responsibility of making all student events accessible, rather than picking and choosing based on financial constraints or legal obligations. Even if the center or the university finds itself subject to budgetary restrictions, the ARC has an obligation to prioritize basic accessibility services before funding additional supplementary programs, such as free subject-specific tutoring and the Writing Center. This is a simple requisite for any university that wishes to operate without prejudice toward disabled students.

The ARC plays an important role on campus, and in most regards it fulfills that role admirably. This is one instance in which the ARC must improve to make sure all students can take part in all aspects of the Georgetown experience, not just those that are convenient for the university to support.

 

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