When students approached Associated Students and asked for a committee that would help disabled students at UCSB, A.S. unanimously voted for its formation. The Commission On Disability Access – formed in the Summer of 2000 – did not disappoint, sponsoring UCSB’s first conference on disabilities and working with the Ucen to install automatic doors.
Two weeks ago, A.S. heard a presentation that said C.O.D.A was among several groups considered inactive since the beginning of the school year.
The two co-founders of C.O.D.A, Mel Fabi and Bill Flores, helped instigate several of C.O.D.A’s projects but are now involved in other activities. Fabi is an intern participating in the UCDC Program and Flores is the president of the Campus Democrats.
“There is just so much C.O.D.A can do … so much to be done,” Flores said. “Right now there’s no one to fight for them and they just need a voice.”
A.S. Controller Chris Hubbard said he examined a record of financial transactions for A.S. and found that C.O.D.A and several other organizations did not have any transactions as of the middle of Winter Quarter. Most of these organizations approached Hubbard to say that they were planning activities, but representatives from C.O.D.A did not.
“[C.O.D.A] really became rudderless, with no sense of direction,” Hubbard said. “Still, it would be fair to call it dormant but not dead, for the moment.”
“Last year their proposal passed unanimously in Leg Council because all the involved students were so gung-ho,” he said. “They had even been talking about getting Christopher Reeve to come and speak, but didn’t find the same enthusiasm this year.”
C.O.D.A’s mission is to “outreach, network and explore ways to increase retention and graduation rates, and promote social, educational and academic programs regarding the disabled student community.”
C.O.D.A’s budget amounts to $350 to $400 for this year, but none of it has been spent. Hubbard said the money could possibly be transferred to the A.S. Finance Board at the end of the year.
“A lack of money should never be used as an excuse for the committee not functioning,” Flores said. “Hopefully next year will be different and C.O.D.A can become a priority again in A.S.”
Though C.O.D.A lacks publicity, it helped bring together numerous disabled students throughout campus in its beginning stages last year, said Diane Glenn, the Director of Disabled Students.
“It really had so much momentum when it started, and brought together disabled students as well as those without disabilities,” Glenn said. “With so much of the initial group graduating, it has been really difficult for the group to get up and running.”
The Disabled Students Program is conducting an evaluation involving disabled students and has found that many of them do not experience any barriers while on campus, Glenn said.
“We feel that we’re on target at this time,” she said.
A.S. is still addressing issues that would help disabled students on campus and in I.V., Flores said.
“In A.S. right now we’re looking at installing touch maps around campus for the blind, as well as some sort of sound-activated crossings along the bike paths,” he said. “On top of that, we’re always working with [3rd District Supervisor] Gail Marshall to make sure the roads are getting paved and things are kept up.”
Flores remains hopeful of the group’s future. “It really is a bummer what happened with C.O.D.A, but maybe this year’s elections will bring people who believe in equality and want to fight for progressive issues.”
Although titled “inactive,” the group can resuscitate itself with enough membership, publicity and campus involvement.