To the Editors:
More than a month has passed since Isabella Moreno resigned as the interim director of Oberlin College’s Office of Disability Resources, and we have still seen no significant structural changes planned for the critically understaffed and underfunded ODR. There is no plan to hire a sufficient, full-time staff trained in disability support and there is no plan to provide a committed, accessible safe space designated specifically to provide support for disabled people. Every Band-Aid solution presented by the administration so far has been thinly-veiled efforts to mollify student concerns without spending the money to substantially impact the office’s critical situation. As events have unfolded, it has become clear that the ODR needs five full-time members on its staff in order for it to effectively do its job. The administration has no plan to fill this need.
It has become overwhelmingly clear that the administration and trustees do not value the wellbeing of Oberlin students with disabilities, a position in keeping with those they’ve taken in the past through dismissing the needs of students of color and low-income students. The administration’s choice to lump the ODR into the Center for Student Success is telling. It implies that Oberlin doesn’t value the kind of qualifications staff need to effectively support disabled students. It implies that they are willing to jeopardize the quality of support of both disabled students and low-income students — the groups that the programs and departments now housed under the Center for Student Success have traditionally been designed to support — in order to pursue budget cuts. It implies that they value their checkbook over the needs of students marginalized within the Oberlin community.
Given these implications, my belief — as an Obie and a student senator — is that it would be irresponsible to recommend Oberlin College to prospective students until, at the very least, Oberlin hires five full-time, permanent staff members from disability support backgrounds for the Office Disability Resources and structures disability resources as a distinct department provided with ample office space designed for the accessibility of disabled students. Until that time, I plan on working to disseminate the above information to prospective students so they can get a fuller picture of what to expect from the College. I encourage my friends, comrades, and constituents to do the same.
– Liz Cooper