The Oberlin Disability Resource Center is utilized by 23 percent of the student body. Staffing shortages in the center left many of the 700 students who look to the center for accommodation lacking the assistance they need. 

The few staff members in the center were instructed, by the Vice President of the Dean of Students, to immediately stop any “communication with current students and families about staffing shortages.”

The email this quote is obtained from has been circulating through the student body via media outlets. The interim director of the Disability Recourse Center unexpectedly resigned earlier in the week. After her departure, the Center is left with no permanent full-time employees.

Two of the three full time employees resigned in the previous academic year and were never replaced. Many students fear that the school does not have any future plans to fill the three vacated positions, or to improve upon the weaknesses of disability services.

Staffing shortages made the Center unable to meet the accommodation needs of many of its students. Students have reported that their academics have been negatively impacted by the school’s inability to provide necessary accommodations such as textbook enlargements, and audio recordings.

Outraged students helped draw attention to the issue through social media. Confidential emails first circulated by the deans were published, and shared hundreds of times on Facebook.

As a result, the President of Oberlin College responded with an email stating that “we have completed an immediate audit of outstanding student requests. Accommodation letters are already available to all students who have completed the intake process and, beginning next week, ample appointments will be available for any students who need to schedule consultation.”

The power of media and persistence helped induce change and expose injustices. The actions of these students showcase how a student body can hold their institution accountable and produce a better academic environment.

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