Student disability services differ at various campuses

Tessa Carroll

The purpose of Student Disability Services at Kent State is to provide assistance to students with disabilities in order to help them maximize their academic potential. The way regional campuses go about doing this is quite different from the way things are done on the Kent campus.

Because the regional campuses are notably smaller than the main campus, the number of staff members who work for disability services differs. While the Kent campus’ SDS boasts numerous staff members, the East Liverpool campus’ SDS is run by Dave Guy.

With no interns, he does all of the leg, phone and other work by himself. The Salem campus’ SDS doesn’t even have an actual director. Assistant professor Becky Rigney works as part of Salem’s faculty and she also runs SDS.

“My day-to-day activities involve checking in with my SDS office to see if anyone has contacted me, but I also have some of these students in class,” Rigney said. “I have to separate that a bit. I have to follow the guidelines of the SDS as a faculty member, and that’s a little unique.”

Regardless of what the staff looks like for SDS at the regional campuses, there are still regular duties that must be performed by SDS coordinators and counselors.

“I see that students who are registered with SDS receive all the assistance they are entitled to at the university,” Guy said. “Included would be helping them determine their eligibility and then providing the necessary support services once eligibility is determined.”

To be determined eligible for services offered by SDS, students must have a doctor-noted disability, a multi-factor evaluation or an IEP.

“I feel SDS is important because everyone is entitled to a chance at obtaining a college education — with or without disability issues,” Rigney said. “Not only is it the law, it’s the right thing to do in higher education. Without someone at each campus to advocate for this, that might be more difficult.”

Kelly Kulick, disability counselor at the Stark campus, agrees with Rigney.

“The issue is, disabled or not, we all need to assimilate to this culture,” she said.

“Because of various confidentiality issues, many of the SDS activities may not be recognized or publicized as other activities may be,” Guy said. “But for so many students, SDS provides numerous support functions that will help them achieve a successful university experience.”

Contact regional campuses reporter Tessa Carroll at [email protected]