Call for Testimonies: Forum on Graduate and Undergraduate Dis/ability Supports at McMaster

Maria MustafaEquity, General

Members of CUPE 3906’s Equity Action Committee (EAC) have identified a campus-wide need to engage in a conversation about gaps in dis/ability support at McMaster. We are using the term ‘dis/ability’ in order to disrupt the more common, pathologizing understanding of ‘disability.’ Our use of this term is also intended to be as open as possible, so as to explicitly encourage and welcome conversations about both visible and (in)visible dis/abilities.

In order to begin this conversation with as many participants as possible, the EAC invites the submission of brief testimonies (2-5 minutes in length, maximum 500 words, in any format) to be shared at a forum on questions around dis/ability support at McMaster. There will also be time for an open mic, if anyone decides they would like to share something during the meeting. We imagine the event as one in which people can share their experiences and begin to develop a community in which concerns can be raised and, ideally, that may lead in many directions, from social events, to a range of creative venues to spread awareness about dis/ability issues, to creating a report on policy recommendations for the union and the university. Because of time constraints, we will, unfortunately, have to limit the number of submissions that are shared, but the success of the event is absolutely dependent upon the participation of as many people as possible, so do please attend even if your submission isn’t chosen or if you do not intend to submit a testimony—just being there is plenty!

Because of the very real impact of the stigma around dis/ability, we are limiting our invitee list to only graduate and undergraduate students, with the hope that more people may be welcome someday as we break down barriers. We also encourage submissions from people who may not be comfortable attending for any reason or who may have commitments that make it impossible to attend, who may not want to share their submission publicly and/or who are not comfortable doing so themselves (in which case we would be happy to have someone share it in their place), or who would prefer to remain anonymous. This call for testimonies, in short, is intended to encourage everyone to participate in this event to the degree that they feel safe and comfortable, and the EAC will do everything in its power to support and accommodate these needs and choices. Upon request, we will look into acquiring ASL interpreters and audio support.  Please also let us know if there are other supports that we can put in place, and please also get in touch with us if you see any omissions here.

Possible questions/topics include:

-How has your experience at McMaster with regard to dis/ability support been?

-Dis/ability in the classroom

-TAing or RAing with a dis/ability

-The supervisor/thesis committee and supervisee relationship

-Peer support


-Interlocking oppressions


-Ally support

The forum will take place on Wednesday, February 9, 2011 from 3:30-5:30 in MUSC 224.  Light refreshments will be available.

Please submit your paper/response to us at by Wednesday, February 2, 2011.  We look forward to your submissions. Please contact us at if you have any questions.