Student panelists urge audience to see the ‘abilities’ in disabilities

The Delta Alpha Pi Honor Society held a student panel on April 3 about seeing the ability in every disability.

The event was held in the WINN Center and was lead by five students from DAPHS. The honor society club is for high-achieving college students who have disabilities to come together to support one another.

Students kicked off the event by describing their interactions with people on and off campus.

“Having severe mental illness, people automatically assume I’m crazy,” said Sacramento City College community studies major Beverly Way.

Way has suffered from severe mental illness for most of her life and throughout the event described what it was like having that on her record.

Having severe mental illness, people automatically assume I’m crazy.

— Beverly Way

“And regardless of her academic background “there was still discrimination,” continued Way. At one point Way said she was even 5150.

A 5150 is the California law code for a temporary, involuntary psychiatric commitment of individuals who present a danger to themselves or others due to signs of mental illness.

“People usually think because [I’m] tiny it shows there’s some sort of disability,” said 19-year-old communications major Sahl Kazi. “But as soon as people hear me talk they say ‘oh she’s fine.’”

The panelists also spoke about how people may act a certain way when interacting with them, and sometimes those people don’t realize how that affects those with disabilities.

“Interactions with people vary,” said 27-year-old radio, television, video and film major Vidak Grubac. “But if you get nervous I get nervous instantly.”

However, 29-year-old social work major Amy Nakatuska said her disability has taught her to be more sensitive.

Kazi acknowledged that there is “always a recurring theme of immediate prejudice.”

The students on the panel also informed the audience that not all disabilities can physically be seen.

“Most people that look at me don’t think I’m disabled,” said 20-year-old neurology, biology, and physiological behavior major Michal Borton.

Don’t let what you learned today stay in this room.

— Vidak Grubak

Panelists agreed that they see everything differently through their disabilities, and for that reason, they “are trying to extend DAPHS to other campuses with the help of Disability Support Programs & Services,” said Way

“We want people to know that people with disabilities can work through them,” Way said. “It’s a matter of taking those deficits and creating something positive.”

The panelist also agreed that this was an important learning event to be held on campus.

Events like this sometimes result in a “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” event, said Grubac.

“Don’t let what you learned today stay in this room,” Grubac said.