The Disability Resource Center, which was newly changed to the Education Access Center, is a facility on Point Loma Nazarene University’s campus that provides students with support, resources and accommodations, to whatever a student’s personal, educational, or physical needs may be.
On July 8, 2021 the EAC informed students and faculty about the name change and the reasoning behind it. The email contained the new mission statement and a bible verse to support the recent change.
Pamala Harris, the associate dean of the Education Access Center, said in an email that the advisory committee in spring 2021 created a mission statement that expresses the values of their institution. The statement from the email reads, “To promote access for all members of the PLNU community by facilitating self-advocacy, removing barriers, providing resources for learning, and creating a culture that honors each person’s unique, God-given gifts.”
Harris wrote, “The EAC advisory committee created a new name to reflect what we do rather than who we serve.”
Jake Gilbertson, the dean of students at PLNU, said that the EAC aligns with the best practices across higher education. When Harris was hired, she wanted the EAC to focus on language that is more up to date and compatible with higher education.
The EAC handles accommodations over a wide range of needs. Students with everything from a short term medical issue to a documented learning and medical issue can apply to receive the accommodations that the ERC offers for students to be able to pursue their education unhindered.
Gilbertson added that the name change is more inclusive and has a better representation of who they serve. Not all students in the EAC have a disability and he suggested that medical needs such as a broken leg aren’t disability related.
A PLNU alumni who received a degree in applied health science and wished to remain anonymous heard about the name change over the summer. She stated, “I don’t think there should have been a name change. A disability is simply the word used when you can’t do something physically or mentally to the highest ability in which it is meant to be done.”
A senior business major, who also wished to remain anonymous, added, “I am not offended by the name change but I do hope that none of my fellow classmates think that having a disability is something to be looked down upon. I hope this new name brings inclusiveness to not only the ERC but the entire PLNU community.”
To reassure any students, professors, parents, or alumni who have been affected or offended by the name change, Gilbertson confirmed that the goal of the name change was to capture the purpose of the office and its entirety. It wasn’t to target or diminish any students nor disability on campus, Gilbertson said. He also added that the ERC has been working hard to educate teachers to make sure that student education goals are being met and that they’re equipped to help their students in the classroom.
By: Fiona Rasak