University News

UCS introduces accessibility initiatives

Council aims to translate documents into multiple languages, expand access to support deans

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, September 15, 2016

UCS announced initiatives that aim to increase the accessibility of administrators and crucial documents for students at its first meeting.

Updated Sept. 15, 2016 at 7 p.m. 

The Undergraduate Council of Students discussed new initiatives to improve the accessibility of various campus resources, including a plan to translate crucial documents for students into multiple languages, at its general body meeting Wednesday.

“There are a lot of families who apply to Brown, and English is not their first language — whether they’re international families, immigrant families, undocumented families, etc. — and so we want Brown to be accessible to everyone,” said Yuzuka Akasaka ’18, treasurer of UCS.

Provost Richard Locke P’17 has indicated support for the project and has encouraged UCS to work with administrators, such as representatives from the Office of Admission, the Office of Financial Aid and the Office of the Dean of the College to explore options for “how we look at translation and interpretation,” wrote Brian Clark, director of news and editorial development, in an email to The Herald.

The focus is now on selecting key documents and the languages into which they will be translated, Akasaka said.

UCS President Viet Nguyen ’17 also said the initiative has the potential to set a standard of accessibility for other universities.

“We looked at what other universities were doing in terms of translation services and interpretation services, and there’s actually very little going on right now,” Nguyen said. “So a lot of schools don’t have the basic accessibility when it comes to language.”

Nguyen also introduced a plan to more effectively advance policies through coalition building among Category 3 student groups.

“If we can say 36 student groups support this … it’s a lot more powerful when we go to the administration,” he said. The first step in this process will be pushing for mandatory sexual assault training for all Category 3 groups, he added.

UCS members also discussed an initiative to provide confidential resources to students at a range of identity centers throughout campus. The impetus for this project was criticism of the University’s allegedly blanket support system and supposed failure to acknowledge that “different intersections respond differently” to events and experiences, said Naveen Srinivasan ’19, chair of the Student Activities Committee.

Srinivasan said he would like the University to hire psychotherapists or social workers of relevant identities to staff each center. “But in the interim, we’re looking for representatives from the Title IX Office or representatives from Counseling and Psychological Services to hold open hours within each of the centers.”

Centers equipped with confidential resources would include the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center, the Brown Center for Students of Color and the LGBTQ Center, he added.

A possible program to make support deans accessible to students in dorms and lounges was introduced as well. The program would connect deans with students rather than forcing “people who need their questions addressed” to seek out deans in University Hall, Nguyen said.

“We want it to be very low key,” he said, adding that the casual environment should be more conducive to conversations between deans and students.

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  1. I hope they will start to address a real issue among “elite” colleges, when will you push for making admissions accessible to students with low IQ’s. Really, Brown has been terribly discriminatory in this regard. Very upsetting.

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