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March 2013



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Georgetown University

Georgetown University is a private, Jesuit, research university whose main campus is in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1789, it is the oldest Catholic university in the United States. Georgetown administers 180 academic programs in four undergraduate and three graduate and professional schools, and the programs in international affairs and law are particularly selective and well regarded. In addition to its main campus, renowned for the neo-Romanesque Healy Hall, Georgetown operates a law center on Capitol Hill, as well as auxiliary campuses in Italy, Turkey, and Qatar.



Last month saw the annual two-week frenzy of student government campaigning at Georgetown University, where candidates plaster campus with fliers and organize campaign talks in hopes of winning enough student support to be elected President and Vice President of the student body. After the candidates held a forum on racial diversity at the Black House and addressed women’s issues and feminism in a separate event, I noticed that the four campaign websites all included discussion of social justice, pluralism, and diversity in the candidates’ platforms, but not one of them addressed disability issues. 


As a disabled student, I was disappointed that the issues that would directly affect me were going unaddressed in the campus debates, and so I wrote a six item questionnaire on disability issues specific to Georgetown that I posted to Facebook and emailed to the candidates. I asked candidates how they would advocate for Georgetown to be more accessible to students with all types of disabilities, how they would address a stigmatizing environment toward disabled people, what they would do to support my initiative to form a Disability Cultural Center, and how they would include disabled students in campus leadership and in discussions on disability.


Of the five candidate pairs, four sent written responses to the questionnaire; three thanked me for compiling and distributing it; and the largest campus newspaper, The Hoya, published an article on the disability questionnaire and the candidates’ responses.


I would never have thought to contact the student government candidates directly had it not been for the training on campus organizing and coalition building that I received during Autism Campus Inclusions’s summer leadership academy last August. If you’re interested in making real change on your campus, you should apply for ACI too.


– Lydia Brown, Autism Campus Inclusion 2012 Graduate

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