GUSA Senate passes bill in support of accessibility

April 9, 2014

The Georgetown University Student Association Senate unanimously passed a resolution concerning student accessibility that asks the University to provide funding for sign interpreters at student events, which previously had to be funded by the Student Activities Fee.

“University officials approached us [early in the fall semester] and said they couldn’t fund these accommodations,” said Lecture Fund Chair Chris Mulrooney (COL ‘14). “We were puzzled because the University traditionally could fund these accommodations.”

The Lecture Fund has had to fund around $3,000 so far in the current academic year for sign language interpreters, which was not a cost built into its initial budget. According to Mulrooney, the shifts were due to University budget cuts, but are “not sustainable.”

Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson said in February in a Voice feature on deaf culture that “the system we have has been a bit bureaucratic, a bit clunky, and we need to improve it.” The University and the Lecture Fund have been holding private talks regarding the reallocation of funds, but nothing has been finalized.

“It’s not like the resources are going to grow. It’s going to take some rearranging of resources,” said GUSA Senator Abbey McNaughton (COL ‘16), who introduced the bill.

Groups like the Academic Resource Council and the Diversity Action Committee provide funding for students who need interpreters in class, but according to Mulrooney, the current issue is that these groups do not have enough funding.

The resolution states that requiring interpreters to be funded by the Student Activities Fee violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and calls for the University to “recognize the current inhibitors and diminishes these barriers prior to the start of Fall 2014.”

“I hope the University acts quickly so that this is no longer a problem. Ultimately, we’re trying to make for a more inclusive community,” said Mulrooney.

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