“There have been many meaningful and significant efforts over the history of Georgetown University to center disability as diversity, including the creation of the student group Diversability several years ago and its subsequent expansion, the forum for dialogue and performance of the same name in 2011, and the occasional disability studies course offerings, as well as three panel/speaker events that I have personally organized on a variety of disability-related issues. But the administration has yet to affirm an institutional commitment to acknowledging, supporting, and celebrating the disabled members of the Georgetown community. The LGBTQ Center, CMEA, and Women’s Center all exist—certainly, each has been subject to underfunding and understaffing from the administration as well as important criticism from members of the communities that the centers serve and represent. But we have also witnessed repeated criticisms from students with disabilities for over a decade, evidencing that change has been slow at best and noncommittal, superficial, and temporary at worst. This combined with numerous conversations I have had with other disabled members of the community about the culture of shame and stigma surrounding disability only underscore the need for a Disability Cultural Center on campus to unite the disparate voices of disabled students and offer people with disabilities on this campus a starting point for solidarity and support. Right now, only three universities in the world have disability cultural centers. Georgetown has so many opportunities to pioneer meaningful access, inclusion, and equity for people with disabilities, and yet has repeatedly failed. And now, the administration is in the perfect position to take proactive, substantial, and long-term action to correct its record and pioneer the future.”
Lydia Brown (COL 2015) is an autistic disability rights activist, writer, and public speaker. She has experience in legislative advocacy, disability public policy, and grassroots organizing for disability justice. Lydia is serving a second term as GUSA Undersecretary for Disability Affairs in the diversity cabinet. She also co-coordinates the new Washington Metro Disabled Students Collective.
Image: A young Asian person with short black hair and glasses, wearing a t-shirt with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network logo, a blue/purple plaid button-down shirt, and jeans, sitting in an internet cafe against a window, holding a handwritten sign that says “Disability Justice for Georgetown!”