The Moses Center for Students with Disabilities is made readily available to NYU students from the moment they set foot on campus — advertised by resident assistants and professors, while also advertised online and in pamphlets. Oftentimes, students who have never visited the center will receive email requests for in-class note takers for students with accommodations, and take it as evidence of a well functioning service for those in need. However, recently WSN spoke with two students who have had the opportunity to work with the Moses Center, and realized that the student service is not as accommodating and welcoming as it is made out to be. The Moses Center needs to support students with disabilities, not drive them out with doubt and surveillance.
While only two students provided accounts of their experiences with the Moses Center, both accounts painted the center in a partly negative light. Instead of feeling supported, one student described his visit to the Moses Center as filled with discomfort and distrust. This is largely in part due to strict surveillance of students who are deemed qualified to use the center’s accommodations. Students are required to remove clothing and bags. Cameras are used during testing sessions, and only restricted items are allowed in the testing rooms. By forcing students to strip themselves of all their belongings before going into testing rooms and making them feel as if the center mistrusts them, Moses makes students feel as if they aren’t entitled to the accommodations they deserve. For students with anxiety, this environment is not conducive for testing. Given its treatment of the two students WSN interviewed, it is no surprise that NYU is not ranked in College Choice’s 50 Best Disability Friendly Colleges and Universities. Yet, other colleges in New York such as Marist College, SUNY Cortland and Marymount Manhattan College are ranked at number eight, 24 and 47 respectively.
NYU has much to learn from the top disability friendly universities and colleges on this list. The University of Michigan sets a powerful example; it does not only accommodate students with disabilities, but it also has organizations that advocate for them at local and international levels. The University of Southern California also makes anonymity a top priority for disabled students, something the Moses Center is not doing by using cameras to surveil students during tests. UCS also offers free tutoring and stresses meeting the individual needs of unique students. Northeastern University offers transitional tutoring that teaches students self-advocacy and introduces them to the opportunities their Disability Resource Center offers. This way, students with disabilities have more flexibility to shape their college experience and are able to lear in an environment that is inclusive and understanding of their needs.
The Moses Center for Disabilities is in need of many improvements — although its current model has many positive attributes, these two student accounts reveal much about how the center could improve. Some students have reported being forced to leave belongings behind and made to feel uncomfortable in testing environments while the Moses Center should be fostering self-advocacy and respect for students in need of special accommodations like many other universities around the country. NYU has no shortage of resources, and it is well within the the administration’s ability to create a system that better provides for students with disabilities.
A version of this appeared in the Monday, March 26 print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at [email protected]