MU welcomes first 3 organizations for students with disabilities
Sight Club, one of the organizations, aims to increase blind and visually impaired student enrollment.
Nov. 30, 2010
For almost longer than Barbara Hammer, Office of Disability Services director, can remember, there has not been a student organization specifically catered to students with disabilities.
That was until this year. Three organizations have sprung up in the past semester to fill this exact need.
“The main thing is for these students to find avenues for them to help dispel misconceptions about disability,” Hammer said. “What we’d like to see is basically a shifting of how the public thinks about disability. That’s really what it’s about. It’s up to the groups to decide how much of that they want to do.”
MU Students Exceptions
The newest club for students with disabilities, MU Students Exceptions, was just started this semester.
“MUSE was established to provide a place for students with disabilities and their friends to mentor, advise and bond with one another, and as a group, advocate for the needs for the disability community,” MUSE President Allison Reinhart said.
Reinhart said MUSE differs from the other two organizations for students with disabilities because it has no specific focus or grade point average requirement to join.
“Despite the fact that people with disabilities constitute one of the largest minorities in the US, their needs are often overlooked,” Reinhart said. “Together, as a group, our voices have a better chance of being heard.”
Although it is not yet an officially recognized organization, Reinhart said it is in the process of becoming one. Only a group of about 15 people now, she said she hopes to see the group grow.
“What we lack in numbers we make up for in ambition,” Reinhart said.
What began last year as the Invisible Society, the Sight Club is looking to ease the college experience for MU’s blind or visually impaired students, President Gina Ceylan said.
“We’re looking for people at MU and in the community who are blind or visually impaired,” Ceylan said. “I figured if we are communicating and working together, it would help us all become more accomplished.”
Ceylan said MU has 26 blind or visually impaired students, but Sight Club is trying to increase this number.
She said there are about 140 high school students in Missouri who are blind or visually impaired and are looking to pursue post-secondary education. Sight Club hopes to bring these students to campus soon.
Another focus of Sight Club is garnering more knowledge about the universally designed classroom experience, which accommodates any person.
“There’s something that all students with disabilities deal with on campus, but especially blind students,” Ceylan said. “Teachers just aren’t always aware on how to include them in their classrooms.”
Delta Alpha Pi Honor Society
To dispel the stigma that a disability prevents a student from excelling academically, the Delta Alpha Pi Honors Society is spending its first semester as a student organization at MU.
“It’s really to showcase that students with disabilities are high achieving students,” adviser Jessi Keenoy said. “They take pride in their achievements. It’s going to be great for students with disabilities to be more active on campus.”
Keenoy said the society’s focuses are mentoring other students with disabilities and outreach, conducted through panels.
With 20 members currently, the society welcomes applications from both undergraduate and graduate students who meet a predetermined grade point average and amount of credit hours. Applications, which are accepted year-round, can be found in the Office for Disability Services.
Although Delta Alpha Pi is recognized as an official MU student organization, it has yet to receive an official chapter recognition from the national organization. After receiving this, Keenoy said the society will host an induction ceremony.