Student plans new club to advocate for disability alliance

NIU+bus+driver+speaks+with+a+passenger+Monday+outside+the+Holmes+Student+Center.

Northern Star file photo

Haven Dubeck, a junior psychology major, is starting a club to support and advocate for students with disabilities. A goal for the new club is to get parking and bus accommodations.

What to know

  • An NIU student is working to stop ableism on campus.
  • A goal for the new club is to get parking and bus accommodations. 
  • The club eventually hopes to gain SGA approval.

DeKALB Haven Dubeck, a junior psychology major, is working to support and advocate for students with disabilities on campus by starting a club at NIU called The Disability Alliance.

The club has not received approval from SGA, and it is still in its beginning stages. Dubeck’s main priority with the club is to gain more traction and members.

“It’s also for able-bodied people; it’s because a lot of people don’t think of themselves as disabled or someone with a disability because of how stigmatized the word is,” Dubeck said. “So I don’t want someone who thinks, ‘well I’m not paralyzed or something’ to think ‘well that means I don’t have a disability,’ and don’t show up.”

Dubeck said that another reason for starting The Disability Alliance was because of the ableism he had endured on campus and at his place of employment.

The National Conference for Community and Justice describes ableism as the intentional or unintentional discrimination or oppression of people with disabilities. 

“I was fired from a job because of a disability that I had for two days, and then I asked for accommodations, and then they fired me, and I couldn’t do anything about it,” Dubeck said. “And it just got me really into ‘wow, people with disabilities are really treated like crap.’”

With time, Dubeck would like The Disability Alliance to change the university’s accommodations for people with disabilities. 

“I would really appreciate the university to, first of all, put benches at all bus stops because if you’re standing at a bus stop and the bus takes 20 minutes, that it’s very hard for a lot of people,” Dubeck said. “I would also like parking lots to be on more spots on campus, especially by the Student Center.” 

However, Dubeck said that the Disability Resource Center has been a big help. The Disability Alliance would be meeting them in order to have more of a student push.

“The DRC is dedicated to working with students with disabilities, to remove barriers that interfere with their ability to live and learn at NIU,” said Amanda Newman, acting director of the Disability Resource Center. “I think that the possibility of having benches at all the bus stops definitely makes sense.”

Dubeck wants The Disability Alliance club meetings to be once a week, but he is still looking for a time that works for everyone who has shown interest in the club. Dubeck would also like to have an executive board for The Disability Alliance. 

Dubeck wants to start the club by the spring semester. He would also like the club to eventually be SGA approved. 

“We totally welcome a group like this on campus,” Newman said. “It’s a great opportunity for students to connect with their peers and kind of bounce ideas or struggles or what have you, and have some universality and some community.”

Dubeck also received support from classmates who took interest in The Disability Alliance.

“I think there’s a need for it,” said Dallas Douglass, a junior anthropology and gender and sexuality studies major who showed interest in The Disability Alliance. “I believe in coalition building among students and I recognize the power that that has, and so does the university. So I’m really looking forward actually to seeing how this unfolds.”

If students are interested in being part of The Disability Alliance, they can email Dubeck at Z1865659@students.niu.edu.