By Lisa Bauer, Associate Director, Student Accessibility Services
What is Student Accessibility Services?
The University is mandated by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to provide equal access to facilities, educational and co-curricular programs, campus activities and employment opportunities to qualified individuals with disabilities. SAS ensures that students with disabilities have physical and academic access to the educational experience here at the University by providing reasonable and appropriate accommodations. SAS believes that the most successful students are self-advocates who identify their own needs, take personal initiative in problem-solving and decision-making, and effectively use all available resources to fully participate in the educational experience.
SAS is now on the first floor of the Library. Where had it been before?
Since Fall 2002, SAS was housed in shared space in what was then known as the Center for Academic Development on the second floor of the Library. SAS occupied space within the Tutoring Centers until its move to the 1st floor in August 2015. Our colleagues in the Tutoring Centers graciously shared their space and their time/support/concern with SAS students over the decade plus together.
How many students have used Student Accessibility Services and what is the main purpose of the service?
Hundreds and hundreds of students have benefited from the services of SAS since the original office opened on campus back in the early 1990s. The original name was Disability Support Services and in July 2011 the name was changed to Student Accessibility Services to best display its primary mission and philosophy. With the emphasis on the Student first, then Accessibility and ending with identifying Service to display SAS as a strategy-based service model. In a service model a student’s initial connection and ongoing interaction with SAS is self-propelled. SAS supports approximately 10% of the total undergraduate population at the University. The most commonly requested accommodations are: extended time for test-taking, testing in the SAS Testing Center, note-taking assistance and requests for alternate/electronic texts. Accommodations are not intended to guarantee success; they are intended to provide equal access to the educational experience so that students can display their level of learning. In the past two years the mid November total number of students new to SAS has reached 200 students. In prior years the November totals have been in the 100-125 student range. These higher numbers can be attributed to the fact that students are more comfortable with their diagnoses, they understand/accept their need for accommodations/support and they feel generally comfortable with the services of SAS, now in particular in its accessible and confidential location on the 1st floor.
Who was Jeremy Warnick – when did he attend RWU and what was his major?
Jeremy Warnick grew up in Easton, MA and arrived at the University as a transfer student in January 2005 to the Gabelli School of Business with all the hopes a student seeking a fresh with a new opportunity. His parents, Craig and Pam, were also hopeful that RWU would be a good match. What a wonderful thing it was when Jeremy made quick connections to friends and soon felt like he was in a place to call home. He immediately met with staff in Student Accessibility Services to help him with his academic accommodations and to acclimate to the Bristol campus — and maintained that connection throughout his time here. Sadly, Jeremy passed away suddenly in November, 2005.
Dr. and Mrs. Warnick have honored their son’s memory in two very distinct ways:
The Jeremy Warnick Memorial Scholarship
As a way to honor their son, the Warnick family provided significant funding for an annual scholarship named in memory of Jeremy. There have been 13 recipients since 2007. Criteria for the scholarship offered each spring semester are as follows:
- Are actively using Student Accessibility Services at the University for a specific learning, medical, psychiatric or physical disability
- Display a documented need for financial support. (This scholarship is only applied to a student’s billing account and is not a cash award to be used for other purposes such as Study Abroad travel.)
- Are in good academic standing and hold promise for the future.
- Are enrolled in the Gabelli School of Business, whenever possible, however, SAS and the Warnick Family welcome applicants from outside of the Gabelli School to apply.
The annual scholarship, along with an annual visit by Dr. and Mrs. Warnick to campus each fall to visit the bench and be guests of the University for dinner, have all been bonding points to keep the family tethered to a place that Jeremy loved. In July, 2015 when the Warnicks moved from Jeremy’s childhood home to be closer to their daughter and new grandchild, the family was seeking a location for Jeremy’s drum set and offered it to RWU. SAS worked with the RWU Musician’s Guild and Professor Marilyn Mair to arrange for the donation of Jeremy’s drum set now being used by creative and spirited students like Jeremy.
Jeremy Warnick Center for Student Accessibility
The Warnick’s generosity continues a decade later and in a much broader way–their second generous gift to the University further illustrated their commitment to the students at RWU. By naming the SAS Center in honor of Jeremy, the Warnicks recognize that the students utilizing SAS services, as Jeremy did, are smart, capable and dedicated. But they also know that many students like Jeremy learn differently/creatively, have a challenge when learning new information, benefit from one/one support or by using technology to help bolster their comprehension of information. The Center is now accessible on the first floor, has a large Testing Center and private study/testing rooms, and can provide new technology for a wide range of academic access.
At the October 24, 2015 SAS Center naming dedication President Farish shared thoughtful reflections about students who learn differently and how supports have allowed these students opportunities for success on so many level through SAS. Additional remarks by VP John King and by the Reverend Nancy Soukup, as well as current 2015 recipient Sean Joyce, and alum Blair Victoria Dutra (2008 BA Psychology), Jeremy’s close friend in 2005; all served to bring high honor to a very special dedication. A plaque noting the names of all past recipients of Jeremy’s scholarship was unveiled at the dedication. A second bronzed plaque will soon tell Jeremy’s story with an etching of his image.