Portland State’s Space Allocation Committee approved The Disability Resource Center’s proposal to create a new community space for students with disabilities and allies at the committee meeting Wednesday, Feb 21. The new construction will reallocate almost 400 square feet of space from the Associated Students of PSU office on the first floor of Smith Memorial Student Union.
“We have already received enthusiastic messages from current students who can’t wait for the expansion of our center, where they feel comfortable and able to be themselves,” stated DRC Director Jen Dugger in an email. “The staff of the DRC are also extremely excited and so thoroughly grateful for the generosity and advocacy of our ASPSU neighbors.”
As the number of PSU students enrolling at the DRC continues to increase yearly, the center has had to replace community space with offices to accommodate the number of staff needed to keep up with the workload. The DRC is responsible for ensuring PSU complies with the American Disabilities Act. However, according to Dugger, the office regrets its inability in recent years to host a physical space for PSU students with disabilities—most of whom face invisible disabilities like mental illness or chronic pain—to socialize with other students going through similar experiences.
Construction on the $73,000 project, which could take six to eight weeks, might begin as soon as this summer. Dugger added that ASPSU and DRC operations should not be significantly impacted during construction.
After the DRC submits the renovation work order to Facilities and Property Management, Dugger said the center will plan out how exactly to decorate and use the social area, quiet study space and group rooms in the works. “We plan to create a few layout options which we will present to students, along with our ideas for what kinds of programming and education will happen there,” Dugger wrote. “We will be seeking lots of feedback along the way.”