By Katherine Goldblatt
The Disability Resource Center at SUNY New Paltz is a place for any student with a documented disability to go and receive support and community from staff and other students with disabilities while attending New Paltz. It is a treasure trove of disability resources and a small family tucked away on the second floor of the Haggerty Administration Building. How do I know? I am a Disability Resource Center student myself.
At the Disability Resource Center (DR), I take part in the Compass Program, a program specifically for students on the autism spectrum at New Paltz. Run by Deanna Knapp, the Compass Program aims to help New Paltz students with Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnoses to adjust to college life and find a network of services and people to help them throughout their college experience. As a Compass Program student, I meet with Deanna Knapp biweekly to discuss my schedule and to make sure I am not overwhelmed by everything I have to do as a college student, whether it relates to academics or not. I also took a class last semester with other Compass Program students called “Transition to College,” which helped me practice several vital skills (like presenting PowerPoints and group work) that I will need to use throughout my studies. The Compass Program also provided me with a mentor. My mentor helps guide me through college life and is there whenever I need them. I would say that as a whole, the Compass Program is a vital resource for myself and others.
Besides the Compass Program, the DRC at New Paltz offers many more services. Through them, I receive accommodations, which are policies put in place to help me perform my best in and out of the classroom. These accommodations range from extra time on tests, the ability to take notes with a laptop if I need and even receiving a single room in the dorms. These accommodations help me function at the level I need to for college. In addition, the DRC offers different programs for kids in the center to interact and relax. Emi DiScullio, the art therapist, often runs entertaining events for DRC students. Recently, she took a group of us to see an exhibit right at the Dorsky Museum, complete with an art therapy exercise! It was a relaxing way to spend my morning where I otherwise would have done nothing. There are many events like this that Emi runs, and all of them are a good time. Finally, the DRC helps run Delta Alpha Pi – an honor society for any student with a documented disability.
With all of their resources and programs, the DRC at New Paltz procures a safe space for me and any other person with disabilities to be themselves and to help them be their best selves. I would recommend visiting to any student with a documented disability on this campus, as it is a valuable resource that will be treasured by many students at New Paltz for years to come.