SA resolutions introduced on reproductive health, disability accommodations
At the Sept. 26 senate meeting, students presented two resolutions: one for the creation of a student reproductive health coalition and one for improving the accessibility of disability accommodations.
If passed, the first bill would establish the Student Reproductive Health Coalition, a task force that would meet at least once a month throughout the academic year.
Senators Ally Godsil, Siddhi Narayan, Ariah Richards and Olivia Roark drafted and presented this legislation in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson and the Women’s Health Organization repealing protections on reproductive healthcare and rights.
The group’s intent is to identify the most critical areas of reproductive healthcare needs and address them through resource and information distribution. Specifically, the group will focus on implementing strategies to distribute information regarding reproductive health services, increasing contraceptive availability, and ensuring that everyone knows about these services
Richards, a McMurtry College sophomore, said that the proposed student task force would remain active indefinitely to address ongoing student concerns.
“This coalition is important to me because every student has a right to have access to reproductive health resources,” Richards said. “As it stands right now a lot of these resources exist, but they are inaccessible because our students don’t know how or where to access them.”
Roark said increasing access to these resources should be a priority with all of the privileges and resources that Rice has.
“This coalition will bring existing student groups together to allow for consistent collaboration on concrete action initiatives,” Roark, a sophomore from Jones College, said. “It will also provide students with a consolidated platform centered around reproductive health, allowing our voices to be heard loud and clear.”
This coalition also calls upon the interests of student organizations, including but not limited to Period@Rice, Planned Parenthood at Rice, Rice Student Health Advisors and the Rice Women’s Resource Center. Each listed organization will have one representative in this new coalition, according to Richards.
Additionally, Tyler Kinzy, a Wiess College sophomore, presented a resolution to improve the accessibility of disability accommodations. He said the resolution was in response to him realizing that Rice students with disabilities are responsible for initiating the conversation with professors about accommodations and arranging for them within the first few weeks of class.
The resolution proposes allowing students to send letters of accommodation to the instructors directly from the Disability Resource Center online portal. From there on, the resolution states that it can be the students’ responsibility to make sure that letter has been received and initiate further communication about the nature of the accommodations.
“The genesis of this resolution was conversations I had with people I care deeply about at Wiess who’ve struggled with the imbalance [of] power dynamics in [communicating their] accommodations and a desire to streamline that process,” Kinzy said.
According to Kinzy, even though the resolution doesn’t solve the issue of destigmatizing disability, it helps students who are struggling in the short term.
“I think [in the] long-term, accommodations are a very important part of attempting to provide equal access to education for students with disabilities,” Kinzy said. “But even on a broader societal level, we have a long way to go in terms of truly creating a societal infrastructure that is inclusive of all, not just in regards to disability, but a variety of different identities.”
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