Disabled Student Lounge pilot program finds a home


Morgan Barnaby

OSU students doodle on the new sign for the Disabled Students Lounge on April 14 in Snell Hall in Corvallis.

Riley LeCocq, News Reporter

A space of social support for disabled students at Oregon State University has finally opened, a first step to prove interest and need before further development.  

Today marked the grand opening of the Disabled Student Lounge pilot program, sharing a space with the Military and Veteran Resource Center in Snell Hall 150.

The opening comes after over a year of petitions and work with the Associated Students of Oregon State University to find and establish a space on campus. 

 “Disabled students on campus don’t have a lot in terms of social resources for them…. outside of (Disability Access Services) there’s not really much going on for disabled students on campus,” said Kayden Cummings, the project coordinator for the Disabled Student Lounge. 

According to Cummings, having a physical space will improve the moral and general life for students with disabilities on campus and plans to hold regular events starting next week with an autism awareness month crafting event that is still in the works. 

“Being  disabled and not necessarily seeing a lot of disabled representation can feel pretty isolating for students,” Cummings said. “So having a space where there’s resources and there’s just people to see when you’re having a tough day can help improve mood and improve a lot of things.”

For the lounge’s hours, Cummings says to check their social media  – @disabledstudentsloungeosu – for the most accurate updates as they begin and find a schedule. 

The lounge, in one form or another, has been in the works since it was first introduced to the Associated Students of Oregon State University congress in the spring of 2020, according to ASOSU President Matteo Paola. 

Paola said there were difficulties finding space on campus with the original space available being within the Memorial Union, where the International Student lounge pilot program is currently located. 

According to Paola, after some push back about the space location due to the accessibility of the MU and further conversations with university officials, a portion of the Military and Veterans Resource Center was offered as an option. 

“We wanted to make sure that it was a good fit and because so many veterans also have disabilities, we felt like it was a decent match,” said Maryssa Reynoso, ASOSU diversity and inclusion director. 

According to Willie Elfering, MVRC director, he hopes that disabled student lounge will be so successful they will outgrow the space that they have been given at the end of the pilot program in spring 2024.

“We’re hoping to be welcoming and help them in any way we can while they are here,” said Elfering. 

Elfering also recognizes that there are many students who may carry both identities, allowing them to find community within both spaces while sharing the space. 

According to Ella Johansen, a student in attendance at the grand opening, having a space to feel safe is something exciting and commends OSU on working towards something similar to the existing cultural centers for students with disabilities.  

“Being disabled is hard and it’s way easier when you have community around you and other people you can see so you know you are not alone,” said Johansen. 

According to Paola and Reynoso, despite the quickly approaching transition of ASOSU leadership, the president elect – Carrisa O’Donnell – and Paola have been working on hiring another project coordinator for the lounge to work alongside Cummings in the following academic year and summer. 

“This is also just to see what the needs of the students are so for future development, we know what they’re looking for,” said Reynoso. “Lots of amazing people put a lot of hard work in it the last few years to get the space opened and where it is now.”

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