Civic Engagement & Leadership, DSS host disability awareness event


Photo by Sara Topliff

Sophomore Ethan Klein participates in bracelet-making at the Disability Awareness event hosted by Civic Engagement & Leadership and Disability Support Services. Each bead symbolized a different disability.

Sara Topliff, Reporter

Civic Engagement & Leadership and Disability Support Services held a disability awareness event to discuss ways California Lutheran University can be improved for people with disabilities on campus.

Civic Engagement & Leadership intern Franky Pagel said that the event on Thursday, March 23 was focused on what the Cal Lutheran campus is doing for disability awareness and enhancing accessibility. 

“Disability awareness means being aware that humans come in every shape and form and that a human being is whatever form it comes in and that is enough as it is…To me, disability awareness is just being aware that everybody is exactly who they are and we’re not trying to fix that or change that,” Pagel said. 

On each table, there was a list of accessibility improvements for the 2022-2023 academic year, which included more accessible walkways and sidewalks for students with wheelchairs, more accessibility railings all around campus, more lights on campus, more public ride assistance and changing the location of entrance swipes to be more accessible to students in wheelchairs. 

“Taking our ideas from the discussion to the senate [ASCLU Senate] and hopefully then passing different things to bring about change is a great way to do it. Having an event like this and bringing different people from across campus to share in those discussions is good and I’m really proud of Student Life for putting this on,” DSS graduate intern Christopher Lara-Cruz said. 

Throughout the discussion, people raised their hands to share their ideas and experiences. A topic was the need for elevators in residence halls. 

Through brainstorming as a group and having an open conversation about what people struggle with in terms of accessibility, not only was awareness brought to this topic, but also ideas were written down and shared in hopes of bettering the campus. 

“The goals I had were just to get more voices on what needs to be done on campus because I, personally, don’t know and don’t have all the answers, and the only way to do that is through community. I was hoping to have the community come out and actually share their voices and their thoughts, and so I was so happy to have that happen and have that goal achieved,” Pagel said. 

Lara-Cruz said that for him, disability awareness means not othering people that have a disability and knowing that there are people that are different both physically and mentally. He also said that he thinks those differences should be embraced.

“It’s about spreading awareness…and really having that conversation going on about different ways we can improve the campus and make it more accessible and equitable for students with disabilities, also with faculty and staff as well,” Lara-Cruz said.

When the discussion concluded, attendees were invited to visit the bracelet-making station with different colored beads that represented different disabilities. Stickers were also set out on the tables for people to take and, by doing so, show their support.

Pagel said that it is important to understand what you are able to do and think about ways to improve that for others who can’t. They said that it is a privilege to be able to open doors and walk through them without thinking about it.