Associated Students and the Disabilites ​Servcies​ Center collaborate to Host panel on Intersectionality and Diversity

By: Emma Springer

On Thursday, May 9th, the Associated Students of UCI and the Disabilities Services Center collaborated to put together a panel on Intersectionality Diversity. The panel consisted of the Program Coordinator of the Womxn’s Hub Adrian Williams, the Associate Vice Chancellor of the Wellness, Health and Counseling Services Dr. Marcelle Hayashida, and a commission for the internal vice president of ASUCI Jenna Gotte.

The intimate discussion centered around struggles of identities, disabilities, finances, careers, and how they all cross and mesh together to give a structure to our lives.

The panel began with how people understand those who are disabled, or just those who are different, from an outsider’s perspective.

“You don’t care until it’s you, you don’t care until it’s your best friend, or your parents, or your siblings, or someone that you know where it starts to impact you directly and we have to challenge ourselves, I think, as a society. We have to kind of step outside of this me, me, me kind of thinking,” said Williams.

Williams encourages people to embrace who they are, stating, “This is my liberation showing up as my full self, because this is who I am. So take it or leave it.”

The discussion continued onto inequalities in the workplace and how to approach and combat obstacles that people may face because of race, gender, or disabilities.

Williams posed the important question directed towards the value of women in the workplace, asking, “How do we learn to define what our worth is on paper?”

In order to combat the difficulties of gender inequality in the workplace, Hayashida explained, “Part of the way that you battle this is try to make sure that you’re plugged in to systems…create your own circles where you share information.”

The topic of visible versus invisible disabilities came to light in a discussion of how the two groups are treated differently. According to blank, this causes people to be treated differently and can influence people’s choices when it comes to careers and general appearances. Accessibility also poses a problem considering who is being hired for certain jobs.

“I think it can limit a sense of what your options are, whether you disclose or you don’t disclose during an interview is a really big deal. On the one hand you want to disclose because you want people to know. On the other hand people can legit use that against you, even though it’s illegal, they still do it here,” said Hayashida regarding visible versus invisible disabilities.

Healthcare poses another obstacle, leaving people mistreated, with a lack of accessibility to mental health services, especially for those on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Williams, Hayashida, and Gotta all talked about their personal struggles with health care, saying there is a need for persistence with people in the medical field, and the importance of finding the right care physician for you.

One of the final questions asked to the panel was what advice they would give to current college students.

Williams stressed the importance of thinking properly about making decisions, especially financially, and how those will affect you after college.

“You have to find a self care practice, like you have to figure out how to lower your cortisol levels, and lower your blood pressure, and find a meditation practice, or a prayer practice, or a yoga practice, or run, or jog, or play tennis,” Hayashida said. “Whatever it is so you can lower your hormonal response to stress. You cannot sustain a life that is productive, and joyful, and creative, if you are constantly on edge.”