Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Disability Support Services Panel

Disability Support Services Panel

 Tuesday, March 28th, 2017 at 4:30pm-5:30pm in 110 Moon Library
(Class project of facilitators Amelia Hoffman and Lisa--thank you very much for sharing with campus!)

·      Mary Triano, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs (Student Support) at ESF

·       Paula Possenti-Perez, Director of Office of Disability Services at Syracuse University

·       Bethany Heaton-Crawford, Assistant Director & Counselor of Office of Disability Support Services at Syracuse University

·       Melissa Stevens & Morgan Harrington, from Elmcrest Special Education Center

Abstract:The panel will engage in discussion about trends in students coming to college, common barriers experienced by students, and about different types of disabilities. The goal is to continue to build awareness about the complexity and diversity that exists within the community and discuss case studies that highlight areas where faculty and staff can engage in eliminate barriers and act as advocates and empower  their students.  We welcome all!

Question posed by facilitators:   Why are IEP, 504 plans (primary and secondary school plans) important?  Documentation of a disability or pre-conditions.  College students are bright; they may have been able to accommodate on their own prior to the more rigorous higher ed curriculum.  Accommodations may change as workload and available technology change.  Terminology also changes with private and public institutions.  About access to the educational environment.  Work with student to create an “Access plan.” In terms of success and satisfaction, navigating the system can create a lot of stress, especially on top of the courseload.  Stigma of disability and fear of faculty response may lead students to choose not to disclose.  In an inclusive environment:  One is disabled by limited access.

In preschool classrooms, it takes a good month to lay groundwork, and several months to see results of accommodations.  

Disability is socially constructed to be not-normal.  In our culture, need to be brave to disclose.  Need to stick out and fail prior to receiving services.  Each transition has a barrier as well, may no longer qualify as move to next aged program.  Intentionality of language can change that.  Accumulated microaggressions reinforce the negative, and it’s internalized.  Accommodation is different and hard word, but it makes a difference.

Universal design—shift in pedagogy and multi-modal design can benefit all students, not just the ones who requires an accommodation.  Eg, closed captioning—everyone can read along, not just the hearing impaired.
Questions from audience:

Beyond the syllabus addition regarding accommodation, what can faculty do to increase their confidence in carrying out those conversations?  Statement asks students to identify elements that might be problematic.  Leave different means to engage students.  Language matters!  Go through syllabus to identify.  Admit—I am not an expert.  I rely on you to let me know what works, and we can figure it out together.  What if a faculty member suspects a disability but it has not been disclosed?  Ask, you seem engaged, but your test grades aren’t reflecting that. Talk to me about the gap. 

What are some common barriers experienced by students?  “I want to try it without”—we want to be respectful of that, but also talk them through because there is a reason(physical, neurological, chemical, whatever) why student is in their office.  Students are also not always aware of all the accommodations available to them; faculty, too.  Answer is:  let’s ask!  Accommodation often requires timeliness and faculty cooperation—like notetaking, alternate format.  Publishers won’t release information without proof of purchase.  Physical construct of classroom can be a barrier—how building or lab is designed. 

Working on an accessibility map so paths are clearer.  Solutions may be moving classrooms, or changing schedules.

Many students have said that they have difficulty disclosing invisible disabilities—what tools might make this easier?  Disability Center can role play that conversation; help them develop a script.  Communicate first electronically.  Each student has a counselor that can act as a liaison.  They would like to work more with faculty and help them understand that there is leadership there to support them so that it is not a “burden.” This is what we can do to help you support ALL students.  Counselor may email, copy student, staying “… will be coming to talk with you.”  How much they have to disclose is a big black hole—students can feel like they need to disclose whole history, or faculty may fear that they know need to be an export on that concern.  Many faculty don’t want that level of detail—they want to know what they can do to help.  How can they know when student is struggling or not?  What conditions will help student learn best?  Sometimes parents haven’t allowed their child to be involved with that conversation through high school because they want to shield child from the stigma, from the difficulty in obtaining their service, etc.  Mindset factor:  “I’m no good at this” but its cognitive distortion due to ineffective strategies.  Tutoring differs between high school and college; there is now expectation that they will have tried to read the chapter prior to session.

What are the percentages of ESF students receiving services?  How does that compare to other places?  Implications to things that are coming through the ranks?  Nationally, about 11%; SU 7%, ESF ~6% (self-reported).  All averages are going up, more students on autism spectrum (esp at STEM schools) because of early interventions.  Technology has come a long way.  Assistive technology isn’t utilized in k-12, which means new students have to learn to use while trying to learn everything else.  Read and Write can be used by all students, so everyone learning together.  At SU, will be getting a lot more veterans.  The more they become savvy about self and benefits of diversity…

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Women's Empowerment Brunch 2017

Panelists Drs. Lindi Quackenbush, Tehmekah MacPherson, Melissa Fierke, Marie-Odile Fortier and Kelley Donaghey addressed questions on this year's focal point:  Leadership.

Facilitator Alana Lindsey of the Baobab Society recognized that ESF is on Haudenosaunee Territory, and then launched into questions.

Panelists noted "official" leadership duties as chairs and directors, but also mentors and in development of large classes, serving as counterpoints on committees, and as examples. 

They shared times when their authority was not taken seriously.  One observes that this is more noticeable at STEM institutions than in more comprehensive institutions, with a larger number of departments and  more women faculty members.  Another mentioned a male student explaining to her the purpose of her own class.  Another that when they attempt to discuss such things with male coworkers that they imply that the issue is with her. 

One mentioned that this occurs in classrooms, and wondered if its simply a new setting.  Colleagues at other institutions assure her that no, there really is always a grandstander (usually male). 

Female and male faculty are perceived very differently; there are studies that show that evaluations of male instructors will be rated 17% better without any other differences.    Compounded by discrimation due to other immutable factors (young, being a person of color)--its hard to separate how much is because of female, country of origin, because grew up very rurally

MacPherson:  Don't dismiss feelings; use something you love to move to the other side.  [She] has artistic expression, voices [of authors, quotes]

Be willing to say, No, I can't do that.

Address assumptions head on:  but can be perceived as cold, bitch.  But if don't respond:  pushover.

Dress so that you are comfortable and feel good about yourself (if you feel most confident in makeup, go for it!) and don't worry about other's opinions.  (One notes that this is difficult--makeup takes a bit longer to get ready, easy care hairstyle or coloring requires more frequent appointments, and they do worry that others might perceive that this wasted time).

For People of Color, hair has been a political statement--it takes up physical space, and women are supposed to be as small and quiet as possible. 

Take up space in attire as well--do I feel like dealing with comments today?  If not, I choose to dress differently.  If yes, go all out.

Question :  importance of how women address other women, and how men address women.  While the questioner wondered about this in the context of "slut shaming" (never cool), panelists dove into the issue of infantilizing women by referring to them as "girls."  Consciously correct. Pronouns count!

Tips for Women of Color? 
Work out what it is that you want to be. need to be happy with the progress you are making.
Don't let anyone suppress your flame.  Know when its being tested, know when you need a break.  Identify a survival kit with quotes to see you through to being whole.  Find the MENTORING group for your field, or for women in your field. 
Challenge yourself

I get interrupted a lot--what strategies can I employ?  Be silent?  Watch them run into a wall? Sometimes you need to interject:  "Please let me finish" or "One more thing that I'd like to add before we move on"

Responses to anti-feminist comments, or you are "being too sensitive" or "taking it too seriously"?

(To be continued, in other forums!) 

Baobab Society, Undergraduate Student Association-Student Inclusion, and ESF Women's Caucus

Friday, March 24, 2017

All Gender Bathrooms--effort to designate some others as


At a meeting recently, it came to my attention that there are almost no All Gender bathrooms on campus,  that even single stall bathrooms are still designated as single gender and cannot be re-designated.  At this meeting it was pointed out that some of our community members who are transgender, not on the gender binary, gender non-comforming or transition were uncomfortable using a rest room and would wait all day to return home.  So why aren’t all the single-stall bathrooms designated as “all gender” you ask?  Apparently there is a law that requires that if one single gendered bathroom is re-designated then the opposite single gendered bathroom must be also.  As many of you know in some of our buildings at ESF we have a  dearth of bathrooms, and in many of the oder buildings the bathrooms were converted men’s rooms to women’s rooms.  And sometimes there aren’t equal numbers of mens and women’s rooms at all so that has made re-designating these rooms difficult to impossible.

In the Jahn and Baker complex due to the youth of the building or the recent renovations there is a plethora of bathrooms.   These restrooms are not single-stall bathrooms but there are men’s and women’s rooms on each floor.  Sierra Jech, Heidi Webb and myself have written the attached petition to request that the multi-stall first floor women’s and men’s rooms on the first floor of Jahn be re-designated as All Gender bathrooms.  These bathrooms are extremely accessible and within 30 steps of a set of single gender bathrooms in Baker Laboratory and about 150 feet from single gender bathrooms in Gateway - all on the same level, no elevators or steps required.  There will no doubt need to be some remodeling but we feel that we need to make the request to get the conversation started.  I know that not everyone is comforatble with a multi–stall All Gender bathroom but for some, this will be a huge relief and for visitors a sign of our inclusivity.  Further, there is precedent at other SUNY schools.  Personally, I hope that on a campus where many students in field classes are told that the rest room is the nearest bush, this initiative will find wide support.

Sierra, myself and others will be tabling next week in Gateway and if you’d like to sign the proposal we would appreciate your assistance, we will be there hopefully Wednesday and Thursday.  Additionally, you are welcome to come to my office and sign.  Or you can send me an email indicating your support, or print the PDF, sign the document, scan it and email it back or even electronically sign it and return.  I don’t know how many signatures it will take or what the next steps will be, but all the support we can get will help as we move this forward.

Thank you,


Kelley J. Donaghy, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Immediate Past Executive Chair of Academic Governance
SUNY Senator
Director of the Environmental Scholars Program
315 Jahn Laboratory
1 Forestry Drive
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Syracuse, NY 13210

Whereas a new bill is being considered within the New York State Legislature “that would make all single--‐ occupancy restrooms in public places gender neutral”;1 and
Whereas gender--‐specific bathrooms present problems for parents with differently gendered children and disabled people with differently gendered attendants; and
Whereas there are currently few facilities on the SUNY--‐ESF campus where individuals not on the gender binary, transgender, gender non--‐conforming, or transitioning individuals are comfortable “Peeing in Peace”;2 and
Whereas the Jahn Laboratory has a wealth of bathrooms having been constructed after 1993 and having both men's and women’s rooms on at least four floors; and
Whereas the first floor of Jahn Laboratory is connected by the sky bridge to Baker Laboratory and therefore additional men’s and women’s rooms are within approximately 30 steps of and located on the same floors as the first floor Jahn Laboratory bathrooms; and
Whereas the first floor of Jahn Laboratory is centrally located, wheelchair accessible from the Campus Drive entrance, open on weekends when the computer clusters are open, and is a high traffic area;
Therefore be it resolved that the chemistry department and other concerned SUNY--‐ESF community members request that the SUNY--‐ESF Administration re--‐designate the multi--‐stall men's and women’s bathrooms on the first floor of Jahn laboratory as All Gender bathrooms. We would also request that the urinals in the men’s bathroom be enclosed or at a minimum a sign indicating “unenclosed urinals may be in use” be prominently displayed.
We believe that having a multi--‐stall bathroom re--‐designated sends a strong message to our community that all people are welcome within the chemistry department and would be a strong step toward an inclusive and accessible campus.
1 NY  Bill  Proposed  statewide  requirement  for  gender  neutral  bathrooms,  Geoff  Herbert
2  Peeing  in  Peace,  Transgender  Law  Center,

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Recent menstrual product initiative from USA

....The Undergraduate Student Association is excited to announce the beginning of one of our newest initiatives: complimentary menstrual products for all students! As you may have noticed, bathrooms in Bray, Gateway, and Moon now have small white bins with tampons and pads for students to use as necessary.  Being that our mission is to represent and provide for the needs of all students, we chose to provide these products in both men's and women's restrooms. We understand that not all students require menstrual products and ask that the bins be reserved for those who do.

If you have any questions about this, or if you notice that a bin is empty, please let us know at or We also welcome feedback about placement/access so that we are able to expand the program.

Thanks for your cooperation and support of your colleagues and friends!

Ben Taylor

USA President