UC Berkeley Administration: STOP THE SHUTDOWN of the Disabled Students Readiness Program!
This petition had 1,716 supporters
The following email was sent to the 60 students in the Disabled Students’ Readiness Program with the Division of Equity & Inclusion at UC Berkeley:
"On Monday, August 8, 2016, UC Berkeley was notified by the State Department of Rehabilitation, DOR, about drastic financial changes to the present contract with our campus. These changes included new guidelines, which require the campus to fully fund the Workability IV, WAIV, program services in its current form to maintain compliance with the state’s requirements.
Workability IV (WAIV) is a very restrictive workforce development program that is primarily funded by a state contract with the DOR. The current DOR grant funds four full time staff and a percentage of the salaries of two DSP administrators. Other department staff also contributes a small percentage of their time to the grant in kind.
This grant served approximately 60 students with four full time staff during the 2015-16 school year. Only students who are DOR clients are eligible for WAIV services and the contract narrowly prescribes the types of services and length of time services can be provided. In order to continue this program under the current requirements, UC Berkeley would have to immediately commit more than $200,000 of new funds to this program.
Due to the abrupt and unanticipated changes in the DOR contract along with the effective date of September 1, 2016, the campus will no longer be able to provide the WAIV program services. Services will be available to current WAIV students until October 3., 2016. Other campuses will be discontinuing the grant program as well. We will be working with all current WAIV students, with student groups and student leadership to talk about what a career services model for all students with disabilities should include at Cal moving forward."
The Disabled Students’ Readiness Program (DSRP) “helps eligible disabled students make the transition from home, to school, and on to employment. The DSRP helps set the stage for students to connect with the community and learn from other people with disabilities who have gone before them, and provides guidance, direction and training on appropriate work related behaviors specific to the elimination of identified barriers to employment. “ (http://dsp.berkeley.edu/programs/workability-iv/readiness-program )
The existence of the DSRP and the WorkAbility IV (WAIV) programs is a NECESSITY to the survival and success of disabled students on campus and beyond.
To shut down the DSRP would be to spit in the face of disabled students, a disgrace to the university’s legacy for disabled rights activism, and to the rest of the Cal Community. Without the DSRP and WAIV programs, UC Berkeley is not an institution that is safe or accommodating to disabled students. It is our right to receive these accommodations and services, especially when historically, we have been overlooked, underrepresented, underfunded, undervalued, oppressed by this institution merely by existing.
Failing to provide these basic resources is not just a matter of funding. The shutdown of the DSRP and WAIV programs is an act of systemic violence against the disabled community.
UC Berkeley administration, it is your responsibility to invest in disabled students now and in the future. It is your responsibility to provide the extra $200,000--a very small sum in the grand scheme of the millions in profit you make each year, 30% of which comes from our tuition. You already failed to provide adequate notification--you waited an entire month after the decision was made on August 8th to notify students in the program, only giving one month's notice.
To our non-disabled allies, we ask you to support us in the ways you are able. We urge you to help us keep the bare minimum we need to survive on this campus. We cannot be the number one public university in the world if we do not meet the bare minimum of those most in need, of the entire public. Sign and share this petition to tell Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, the UC Berkeley Administration, and the Board of Regents of the University of California that we will not tolerate the shutdown of the DSRP and WAIV.
"Many people are aware of Berkeley’s history with the Free Speech Movement, but what is less known is that Berkeley also played a vital role in the Disability Rights Movement. In 1972, the first Center for Independent Living (an organization not very different from the DSRP) was founded by disability activists in Berkeley, California. And, in the decades to follow, hundreds of such centers were built around the country.
We, the disabled students community, deserve better. WE, the students at Cal who require a motorized wheelchair to get around campus, the ones who take a little extra time on tests, who maybe use braille or auditory software to get through readings, who sometimes can’t make it to class because we are too emotionally overwhelmed, in too much chronic pain, or maybe need time alone after a long day of social interaction, those of us who approach the world differently, are worth it. WE ARE WORTH IT. There are many like us at this institution, capable of doing great things one day (indeed some of us already have), and if nudged in the right direction, we will help make the world a better place--for all of us."
- Anonymous DSRP participant, 2015-2016.
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