InclusiveU Students Advocate in Albany on Student Empowerment Day

InclusiveU faculty, staff, and students journeyed to Albany, NY, on Feb. 8, 2023, to advocate with other colleges and universities from across New York State as part of a “Student Empowerment Day” urging increased state funding for higher education disability services.

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In partnership with the University’s Disability Cultural CenterCenter for Disability Resources and Burton Blatt Institute, InclusiveU—part of the Lawrence B. Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education—brought more than 40 representatives to this full-day event. The Syracuse University team visited the Senate Chamber as guests of Sen. Rachel May (D-48).

“The trip to Albany was monumental on several levels,” says Beth Myers, Lawrence B. Taishoff Assistant Professor of Inclusive Education, Taishoff Center Executive Director, and head of the New York State Inclusive Higher Education Coalition. “Not only was it an opportunity to join with colleges and universities from across the state to advocate for much needed funds for disability in higher education, it also gave our students a chance to make the connection between what we do at Syracuse and how this all fits into a larger structure and goal.”

Lawmakers, led by Assemblymember Harvey Epstein (D-74) and Sen. Andrew Gounardes (D-26), introduced a resolution memorializing February 8 as “Students with Disabilities Advocacy Day in the State of New York.

Among the budget priorities the students advocated for are $13 million in state funding for Enhancing Supports and Services for Students With Disabilities for Postsecondary Success, supporting access and inclusion of all New Yorkers with disabilities in higher education, and the passage of S1880, expanding financial aid options for college students with intellectual disabilities and making aid sources—such as the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP)—accessible for these students.