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Untitled Document

Residential Council Minutes :: October 28, 2008

Present: James Reed (Chair), Greg Anderson (Policy Chair), Mark Fuller (Program House Chair), Ben Lowell (Lottery Chair), Jillian Robbins (Secretary), Sophie Asher, Al Carter, Jerry Cedrone, Paige Hicks, Mannan Jalan, Chaz Kelsh, Mike Sokolovsky, Christine Sunu, Jane Zhang

Tardy: Adam Lewin

Absent: EJ Chung

Guests: Dean Tom Forsberg, Catherine Axe


  1. Catherine Axe, from Disability Support Services, will speak with the council about the name 'Disability Support Services,' what it implies, and if it should be changed
  2. RPL Notification System Proposal
  3. Card Access Proposal

1. Presentation by Catherine Axe

  • Should 'Disability Support Services' (DSS) change its name? What services does DSS now offer? How do these services align with the implications of the name 'DSS'?
  • DSS was named in the early 1990s. Current Brown students have expressed that they have been reluctant to approach DSS (even when they should be receiving some of the benefits that DSS offers) because of the title of the office and what it implies. Additionally, just because some students have learning differences, they do not view themselves as disabled, and therefore are hesitant to consult DSS for support.
    • deaf students, or diabetic students, do not consider themselves to be disabled, but they utilize the services that DSS offers
  • DSS has considered other names - a favorite is 'Center for Access and Accommodations'
    • this name implies physical accessibility, housing accommodations, and testing accommodations
  • the goal of the name change is for the name to more accurately reflect what the office actually does
  • DSS has reviewed the support centers at 30 comparable schools to Brown
    • at Harvard: Accessible Education Office
    • at Duke: Student Access Office
  • DSS will ensure that if a name change occurs, the word 'disability' will appear frequently on the website of the new support center so that if a student types 'disability' into the search bar on the Brown website, it will direct you to the appropriate place (a student will not have to type 'access' or 'accommodation' into the search bar to be directed to the support office)
    • this will ensure that the office will remain relatively easy to find
  • the current DSS office wants students who could benefit from the services they offer but are currently not enrolled in DSS to not feel hindered to seek out help because the term 'disability' is in the title of the office 
    • they do not want students to feel labeled
  • DSS will advertise the name change in morning mail, Brown publications, etc. so that students on campus will understand the reasoning behind the name change
  • DSS is looking for student feedback
    • they have already asked for feedback from those on the DSS listserv: these students have commented that they would prefer the removal of the 'disability' label because this would make them less reluctant to utilize the resources that DSS offers
  • DSS wants to ensure that professors understand that the needs of the students (their current accommodations) will not change, even though the student is no longer labeled 'disabled'
  • DSS chose 'access' instead of 'accessibility' to be included in its potential new name because they felt that 'accessibility' implied solely physical access
  • now, the name of the office clearly states what the office does - it is important to ensure that the new title explains the role of the support center
  • DSS also offers services to those with temporary disabilities (for example, a broken leg)
    • however, students with broken legs do not consider themselves disabled, and therefore many do not seek help from DSS because they do not think they are entitled to the services DSS offers
    • does 'access and accommodation' illustrate that people with temporary disabilities can seek help there?
  • the name change will hopefully help people 'on the fringe' - if an individual is deaf or blind, this person clearly knows that they can get help at DSS
    • but, those with less obvious disabilities do not necessarily know about DSS or think that they are entitled to help

2. RPL Notification System Proposal:

  • we need to incorporate a time frame for when RPL notification should occur in the proposal
    • this time frame should be defined as 'within two days of the room change (preferably two days before)'
  • this policy should also apply to students who leave or return from study abroad trips
  • motion proposed and passed unanimously

3. Card Access proposal:

  • should we focus on expanded regional card access?
  • what is the current regional card access system?
    • Hegeman-Caswell
    • Perkins-Keeney
    • Vartan Gregorian Quad-Grad Center
    • Wayland-Hope-Littlefield
    • Emery-Woolley-Morriss-Champlin-New Pembroke
    • Andrews-Metcalf (Miller used to be included in this regional plan, but graduate students living in Miller asked that Andrews residents have their access to Miller removed because of vandalism that occurred on Friday and Saturday evenings)
  • where could these connections be strengthened?
  • should Andrews be connected to the other Pembroke dorms?
  • panels are used to store ID numbers and access information
  • the more panels a building has, the more IDs can be stored
  • currently, Slater has no regional access
    • should Slater be included in the Hegeman-Caswell connection?
  • currently, Barbour, Minden, and Wriston dorms also lack regional access
  • should 111 Brown Street and/or Plantation House have regional access with other dorms
    • is choosing to live in a house self-isolating? should other people have access to these houses? are these houses 'houses' or houses serving as dorms?
  • how does substance free housing (and other special interest housing) fit into a regional access plan? is opening these spaces to others violating the wishes of those who initially elected to live in substance free housing

End of Meeting

Submitted by Jillian Robbins, Residential Council Secretary 2008-2009