The Beyond Compliance Coordinating Committee (BCCC) is an organization of Syracuse University students who are working to create and support a positive climate toward disability that values individual difference in all University settings. The BCCC takes an active role in advocating for changes in University policy and practice, including raising disability consciousness on campus and reshaping Syracuse University’s conception of disability, as well as improving reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and hiring faculty and staff members with disabilities.
BCCC addresses these issues by providing:
- a forum for students concerned about disability on campus to discuss issues and ideas;
- support for students to increase their own knowledge around disability, with the intent of sharing what they learn with others in the SU community;
- programs, speakers, and other activities that advance the visibility and acceptance of people with disabilities at SU; and
- opportunities for students to engage in advocacy, education, and support with other members of the University community.
A Brief History of BCCC
The Beyond Compliance Coordinating Committee (BCCC) was founded in Fall 2001 by a small group of graduate students with disabilities and their allies engaged in the pursuit of Disability Studies at Syracuse University. The group received strong encouragement from faculty members primarily involved in the Disability Studies concentration, as well as those interested in promoting disability and diversity issues on campus. Most of the first year was spent introducing the group to high-level administrators including the Vice Chancellor and other faculty members. At the same time, the group focused on broadening the concept of accommodations for students with disabilities, mandated under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), through collaboration with the Office of Disability Services (ODS).
Having achieved the primary objective of infusing disability into campus diaglogue and having begun to broaden the concept of accommodations provided to students with disabilities, the group invested its energy in constructive activities. By the end of the first year, BCCC members made presentations at the Second City Conference on Disability Studies and Education (June 2002) in Chicago and the 14th Annual Meeting of the Society for Disability Studies (June 2002) in Oakland, California.
In Fall 2002, a Working Group was formed to collaborate with the Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Studies, the Director of the Office of Disability Services, and the Office of Design and Construction, to formulate a policy manual on disability-related issues in the University, examine and tackle pressing issues concerning students with disabilities on campus, and establish a channel of communication between students with disabilities and University administrators. The Working Group continues its successful work with the University administration.
The BCCC then planned a day-long forum for students with disabilities and the staff of Disability Services in regional (Central New York) colleges and universities in order to exchange stories, develop networks, and listen to voices of students with disabilities in higher education. The forum was held in conjunction with The Advocacy Board of the Center on Human Policy on November 14, 2003.
Another highlight of the second year was a 12-week film series,Reflections on Diversity: Disability in Film, that took place on the SU campus during which scholars and community members introduced and facilitated discussions of the films. This led to a weekend film festival, Laughing with Us: Comedy and Disability, the following year. Both film events were highly successful and will continue in some form.
With the organization of these and other activities and sustained lobbying efforts, the BCCC has become known as a vibrant, pervsive and active group on campus; and disability is now recognized as an aspect of diversity on campus at Syracuse University.
The Four Strands of the Beyond Compliance Platform
The BCCC seeks to promote an understanding of disability as diversity. Working to raise and promote disability consciousness on campus, the BCCC sets forth the following strands of its platform in support of our vision. These strands are discussed in further detail in the BCCC Position Statement. This platform stands as a record of BCCC’s mission:
- Reshaping Syracuse University’s conception of disability to promote an understanding of disability as a form of diversity.
- University recognition and funding of the Disability Studies program.
- Creating model accommodations exemplifying the University’s commitment to equality of opportunity for students with disabilities.
- Hiring faculty and staff members with disabilities within departments across the University.
The Beyond Compliance Position Statement
Disability is more than just a physical, sensory, cognitive or mental impairment. Accessibility is more than just compliance with federal and state laws. Disability is about the human condition, and the Syracuse University community will be enhanced by a broader conceptualization of disability that calls for inclusion, equality, and social justice. Thus, compliance with the law is the starting point, not the bottom line, for the University community.
We set forth the following arguments in support of our platform, strand by strand.
- Reshaping Syracuse University’s conception of disability to promote an understanding of disability as a form of diversity. Disability is an important aspect of diversity in a university community of scholars, faculty and students. Inclusion of people with disabilities in the Syracuse University environment provides a learning experience for all and reaffirms the dignity of all human beings. Accordingly, disability should be part and parcel of the University’s dialogue on diversity.
- University recognition and funding of the Disability Studies program. Disability Studies at Syracuse University has had strong national and international profile for years, attracting many high-caliber students from around the United States and abroad. A growing number of post-secondary institutions are using Syracuse University’s Disability Studies program as a model for establishing their own program. However, in order to remain viable and at the forefront of research and scholarship in this area, Disability Studies at Syracuse University must be recognized and given adequate levels of funding for hiring new teachers and attracting top-flight students. Thus, the BCCC calls for specific steps in recognizing and funding Disability Studies: establishing teaching appointments for faculty in Disability Studies; hiring people with disabilities for these positions; establishing at least three scholarships for students in the Disability Studies program for each academic year; and, establishing an undergraduate program in Disability Studies.
- Creating model accommodations exemplifying the University’s commitment to equality of opportunity for students with disabilities. Students with disabilities are entitled to effective reason accommodations and should be included in the decision-making process. Syracuse University should be committed to providing the latest in technological advances that would enhance access for students with disabilities.
- Hiring faculty and staff members with disabilities within departments across the University. A pioneering university in the areas of Disability Studies and special education, Syracuse University should reflect its commitment to these disciplines by hiring and promoting people with disabilities as faculty and staff members throughout the University.
The BCCC is open to any Syracuse University student who is interested in disability issues. The group meets every Wednesday at 12:30 pm in 113 Hoople (Center on Human Policy Conference Room). There are also additional meetings, as needed, to discuss issues with administrators, faculty, and other allies and contributors.
Officers are elected by majority vote at the beginning of each fall semester, and serve for one year.
A faculty advisor, Steven J. Taylor, was chosen by an unanimous vote, and will serve for the 2004-2005 academic year.
All members have the power to suggest meeting agenda items via the BCCC listserv. Since there are members who cannot attend meetings, they can still be actively involved thorugh partipicpation on the listserv.
The BCCC members have agreed on the following meeting procedures:
- All members have a right to be heard. When one member has the floor, others listen without interrupting or carrying on side conversations.
- All materials will be made accessible in alternative formats to accommodate those who cannot access print (or audio) media.
- Those who cannot attend meetings can express their ideas via our listserv. Their ideas and opinions carry as much weight as do those members physically present at the meetings.
- Meeting minutes are taken in detail and sent to the listserv after each meeting.
Because BCCC is an organization seeking to share power amongst all members, and since not all are able to attend every meeting, input is sought from every member via our listserv to receive a consensus.
This meeting protocol will be amended as desired by Beyond Compliance members.
Meetings are determined at the beginning of each semester taking individual schedules into account so that the most people possible can attend weekly or bi-weekly meetings.