You’ve applied to NYU, anxiously awaited your acceptance letter, and successfully packed your bags. But as you prepare for the big day, you start wondering how NYU will accommodate your disability. What resources will you have access to? Will there be a community you can reach out to for support? To help address these needs and more, students created the NYU Disability Student Union (DSU), a club that advocates for students with both visible and invisible disabilities. “In the DSU, we stand together to support, encourage, and uplift one another as we go through our NYU journey,” says Christina Beck, DSU co-president. “Our goal as a club is to amplify student voices and create an inclusive environment where everyone can thrive.”
Fostering a Supportive Community
Every semester, the DSU finds creative ways to help NYU students with disabilities overcome challenges they may face. In addition to film festivals, socials, and panel discussions, DSU often develops tailor-made events for students who have questions about things like communication devices, accessible entrances, and study abroad programs.
“Students were asking what accessibility would look like if they chose to study abroad, so we started hosting an annual panel event called Abilities Abroad: Adventures for Everyone,” says Christina. “During this event, students with disabilities talk about the challenges they encountered while studying in a different country and how they ultimately overcame them. It’s a great way for students to ask specific questions related to their disability.”
The NYU Disability Student Union typically hosts no less than three large events throughout the semester. They also have weekly meetings where members can share a meal and talk with each other about the challenges they’re facing. These informal meetings help foster an inclusive space where students can share their experiences, empathize with one another, and devise ways to advocate for change on campus.
“I joined the Disability Student Union because I felt extremely isolated my first year,” says Emely Recinos, DSU copresident. “I thought I was the only student facing accessibility issues on campus. Becoming part of DSU gave me a space to share my feelings and find the social support I was looking for.”
Expanding the Conversation
According to Christina and Emely, the DSU is an important club on campus because it brings the reality of ableism to the forefront. In addition, it encourages NYU to continue working to create an inclusive environment for all.
“While other identities are frequently discussed and represented, disability is an identity that is commonly overlooked,” says Emely. “The DSU helps students with both visible and invisible disabilities feel like they belong at NYU and that their voices are being heard at all levels of the University. We offer support and advice for all students—whether they identify as disabled or not—who may be facing challenges of accessibility on campus.”