Most of the time, the first thing that comes to students’ minds regarding budget cuts is tuition increases. What most people aren’t aware of is that many of the most important programs and centers on campus have been deeply affected.
The Disability Services Center is just one of those centers that have been affected.
The DSC provides students with verified documented disabilities legally mandated academic accommodations. Some of their services include note-taking services, extended test times, adaptive equipment, sign language interpreters, real-time captioning, text conversion and preferential seating in class.
Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, the DSC has not been able to provide students with certain services that are not mandated by federal and state law. For example, tutoring assistance and disability transportation are no longer provided by the DSC.
Since July 2002, disabled students who needed financial assistance for tutoring had to turn to the Student Academic Advancement Services Office instead of the DSC.
More recently, since last fall, Parking and Transportation Services took over the DSC and provides disability transportation for students.
Mary Joy Gamueda, a third-year political science and criminology, law and society major, is currently injured with a broken foot. When she went to the DSC for services, they referred her to the PTS for disability transportation, which did not turn out to be a pleasant experience.
‘The budget cuts are unfortunate for everyone, especially the disabled because there is only one driver at a time and sometimes there are four injured parties in a cart at a time, so sometimes we’re late to class,’ Gamueda said.
Not only have the students who need the services of the DSC felt the effects of budget cuts, but the students hired to provide those services have been affected as well.
Due to the lack of funds, the DSC reduced the number of students they hire for providing services. Instead of 15 student office positions, the DSC currently only has six.
Melisa Castellanos, a fourth-year film studies and psychology and social behavior major, works in the DSC as a media assistant. She has been a witness to many of the layoffs.
‘Each time there has been a cut in student employees, I have been afraid that I would be the next to lose my job, my only source of income at the moment,’ Castellanos said.
Castellanos sees the DSC’s role in the UCI community as one that is much needed by the people it serves.
‘Our office is important because it fosters an environment which allows students to grow academically as well as individually,’ Castellanos said.
According to Karen A. Myers, director of the DSC, the exact amount of their budget that has been cut is not available at this time.
Despite the cuts, the DSC is working as best they can to cope with the budget cuts.
‘Our priority is to provide reasonable academic accommodations to students with verified documented disabilities, and we will continue to do so with the assistance of the UCI administration,’ Myers said.
Melissa Chiu, a second-year economics major, was employed by the DSC as a note-taker during fall 2003. She believes that more services should be provided for students who need disability services.
‘The DSC is very valuable because disabled students attend UCI expecting to have their needs met and now with the budget crisis, it’s not fair to have them suffer,’ Chiu said.