For the first time at Bowdoin, the College has hired a Disability Culture Coordinator, Claude Olson.
According to Assistant Dean of Student Affairs for Inclusion and Diversity Eduardo Pazos, the idea was the brainchild of conversations between the Disabled Student Association and various administrators, including Pazos, Director of Student Activities Nate Hintze, Director of Student Accessibility Lesley Levy, Dean for Student Affairs Janet Lohman, and Associate Dean of Students for Inclusion and Diversity and Director of the Center for Sexuality, Women and Gender Kate Stern. The need for the position arose as students requested more support and campus discussion surrounding ableism, accessibility and disability.
“[Olson’s] role is to help us think more concretely and intentionally about ability, accessibility and disability on campus,” Pazos said.
The position, described in an email to the Orient from Pazos as “very part time,” includes visits to campus every semester as well as remote work.
“I had met Olson over the last year through some networking and was very impressed with the work she had done in her college years around disability, accessibility and social justice in general and I thought she would be a great person to connect to our campus,” Pazos said. “When I originally reached out to her with the idea, I was so excited to hear that she was willing and able to take on this role.”
Olson is from New York and graduated from Smith College in Massachusetts with a Bachelor of Arts in Education and Child Study. In their time in Northampton, they engaged with and worked on projects surrounding disability justice and wrote a zine, entitled “Organizing Is for Everyone: A Guide for the Emerging Activist.”
Pazos looks forward to her role and the college’s efforts to bring the disabled community to the table at important campus conversations.
“I hope that [Olson] and this role as the Disability Culture Coordinator helps us as a community grow in our understanding and appreciation for how to become a more welcoming campus to all students and specifically to disabled students and the disabled community around us,” Pazos said. “We want to be a community that is centered around universal design and being inclusive of all people regardless of ability. That means that we have to continue to learn about accessibility and disability, and celebrate the many contributions and gifts our disabled students bring to our campus.”