From just a D.R.E.A.M. to a D.A.R.E in a matter of months: How are people with disabilities represented at ABAC?

Handicap button in Donaldson Dining Hall. Photo by Alexis Frazier.

Last semester, the Disability, Rights, Education, Activism and Mentoring (D.R.E.A.M) Club held its first meeting on October 26 in Bowen 100. It was an interest meeting for a club that would support, include, and acknowledge those who have physical or mental disabilities. Unfortunately, the meeting did not have a lot of attendees, which is crucial for a club to become official on ABAC’s campus.

Eventually, it garnered enough support from students willing to participate in it that it became an official club. However, it’s no longer the D.R.E.A.M. club, but rather the Disability Awareness Rights and Education (D.A.R.E) club.

Why did the title change?

During an interview with the leader, Lois Friedman, stated, “We decided to change it because D.R.E.A.M stood for ‘Disability Rights Education Activism and Mentoring,’ but we decided we weren’t really going to be doing the ‘Mentoring’ part, so we decided to do away with it.”

The message still remains the same, though: it’s still a safe place for those with physical or mental disabilities.

Another big question surrounding this club is why a club of this sort is now being created. Here at ABAC, there is practically a club for every side-hobby or person.

Friedman gave a few reasons, “We lack the funding, we lack the understanding of the education behind disabilities, and we lack classes on campus about disabilities.”

The interest meeting was held on April 6, and had very big plans that are coming up in the following semester due to the freshness of this club. These plans not only consist of fun activities, but also speaking up on things that could assist those affected by disabilities on ABAC’s campus.

“A lot of people believe there are many issues on this campus structural-wise,” said Friedman.

One of the mentioned scarcities were ramps in places that would allow for those with disabilities to have easier transport. A prime example used was the Bowen Hall. While the right wing of the building has a ramp that leads to the first floor’s elevator, the left wing of the building lacks one and only has a small set of stairs inside. Thus, to allow easy access, this could be a potential site for improvement, and so are areas like the faculty parking lot, and other buildings on campus. With attention paid to these issues, this could reduce potential injury, save time, and most importantly, create a fluent medium of transport.

Another big plan for D.A.R.E. involves the educational aspect of the club. Friedman has mentioned that they were trying to bring attention to the lack of disability-related courses.

“I’m currently working with Dr. Rivers to bring a Sociology-Disability related course to our campus,” they said. While ABAC is an agricultural-based college, it wouldn’t hurt to branch out even more in terms of classes. Even if it doesn’t contribute to a designated major, learning about different disabilities would not only assist in understanding, but would also assist in considering the points of view of others affected by their disabilities.

In the end, there is one goal that stood out from the others: inclusion for the campus as a whole.

“My biggest goal would be building up the disabled population of ABAC, because I know there are many disabled students out there that would love to attend an agricultural school for many, many different things.”

Not only would this increase the diversity of ABAC’s campus, but it would also influence students with disabilities to further their education in order to get careers that they would be able to work in and enjoy.

It’s no question that the D.A.R.E club is something that ABAC has been needing for a long time. It’s also something that is willing to help the campus in terms of disability–related issues. Either way, next semester will be when D.A.R.E expands and sets out to achieve its goals, and is open to anyone interested in joining

Tai Goodman is a Writing and Communication major at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College from Tifton, Georgia who works as a Staff Writer at The Stallion. Their dream is to become either an author, a screenplay writer, or a film director, and their hobbies are writing books, and playing old video-games. Winner of 2nd place for "Best Entertainment Story" at the Athens GCPA Conference 2023.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.