The four Disability Resource Services students in this collage are participating in the upcoming Student Panel this month. The students are Sarah Howze (left), Caitlin Cox with her Service Dog, Fritz (top middle), Olivia Blea (bottom middle) and Gabriel Ferdin (right). (Photo courtesy of Caitlin Cox)


Students who have disabilities on our campus will soon get a chance to voice their opinions to demonstrate their support for Disability Awareness Month. Four current students will participate in a Student Panel that is being put on by the Disability Resource Services.


Olivia Blea (senior, Sociology), Caitlin Cox (junior, Communication Studies), Gabriel Ferdin (junior, Communication Studies) and Sarah Howze (senior, Geography) are part of this panel that is designed to bring attention to different disability issues that they want others on the campus community to know about.

This panel event will be held on October 29, 2019 at 2:30pm-4pm in the Diversity Center (LX-7). Marvin Williams (Director of the DRS) states, “This event is meant to help the campus community hear the voices of our students with disabilities” during Disability Awareness Month.


For some panelists, this is an opportunity for them to speak up and let the campus hear them loud and clear. They want to demand change on campus, so that they can have a better experience. “I want to speak out for the DRS to let the campus know what things can be done to make Stan State more accessible for all,” Ferdin says. For the panelists, this event is an important opportunity to show that they have dreams and goals as they are their own individuals and that disabilities shouldn’t matter.


Diversity is a huge part of Stanislaus State. Many students do not realize this resource is on campus for them to use. Williams states, “The percentage of students with disabilities on campus registered with DRS is about 4.2%. The national and state percentage of students with disabilities in typical college age range is about 11%.”

Our campus has a very low percentage, and we need to increase that percentage a lot. By attending this event, students, faculty and staff will learn about different services that the DRS does for its students.


Students who are part of DRS, but aren’t part of this panel are talking about this event. Michael Vickery (junior, Kinesiology), a student who is new to the DRS program, says, “I heard about this event through some classmates of mine whom are a part of DRS. This is an event that I will be able to attend, so I can support my fellow DRS students who are part of the panel.” He wants to see many changes occur on our campus as DRS gets bigger so that disabled students do not get singled out anymore.


DRS staff members want the campus community to come and be influenced by this event. Williams states, “[This event] can impact how people think about disability because everything expressed will be coming from students with disabilities.”

The students who are part of this Student Panel want to be sure that they make their voices heard and that they make pathways for disabled students that come to Stanislaus State after them. They also want to make the audience aware that individuals with disabilities are not dumb; disabled individuals are smart in their own way.


DRS staff and students want this event to be a success because it brings significance to our campus. Williams states, “My personal hope is that students, faculty, and staff will learn that students with disabilities are people. They are people with the same hopes, dreams, challenges, and victories as the rest of us. They just have a few extra due to some differences in abilities.” Everyone at Stanislaus State should help disabled students out by encouraging them to dream as big as they want.


DRS students want to show the importance of disability services on campus, and they want more events like this one to be held. Vickery says, “DRS could host more events to highlight the struggles that students with disabilities have in school, especially in college.”

The Student Panel is a very important event for the program, so the Disability Resource Services needs as much support as possible during this event that is coming up in late October.


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