SJC Brooklyn students and staff members traveled to Albany, New York, this month for the inaugural New York State Coalition for Students With Disabilities Lobby Day.
They were among hundreds of students from higher education institutions across the state who assembled at the New York State Capitol to advocate for increased funding to support students with disabilities in higher education.
St. Joseph’s President Donald R. Boomgaarden, Ph.D., praised the involvement of St. Joseph’s students in the Feb. 11 trip.
“Our mission calls us to serve all learners and to inspire them to stand for the causes they believe in,” he said. “The requested funding in this year’s budget stands to significantly enhance the level of support that differently abled learners receive across New York state.
“I’m proud that our students and staff are advocating to increase access to these vital services,” he added.
Proposal to Boost Funding by $15 Million
In this year’s state budget, the New York State Department of Education requested an additional $15 million in funding to be disbursed to colleges and universities to boost support services for disabled students. The increase is sorely overdue. Support levels have stayed flat since the 1993-1994 fiscal year. Meanwhile, the need has grown dramatically, as the awareness of disabilities has progressed.
If approved, institutions of higher education can use these funds to best meet the needs of their learning communities.
Quietly Overcoming Challenges
“This was a fantastic opportunity to go to Albany and fight for something I believe in,” said Shannon Doherty, a senior biology major at SJC Brooklyn. “Disability isn’t something you necessarily see; there are thousands of students in college classrooms across New York that quietly overcome challenges every day.”
She said the proposed funding will help colleges expand their range of services for students with disabilities.
“(This will) create a culture of inclusion and support that will enable them to achieve their highest potential.”