The Disabled/Chronically Ill Student Community Organization (DISCO) has established an alumni network in hopes of providing increased support to its members. Any alumni who live with a disability or chronic illness or who have professional experience working with those who do are encouraged to become involved in the alumni group.
DISCO was formally founded in the fall of 2022 by Hannah Sussman ’25, who wanted to provide a supportive community to students with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Besides her efforts to establish DISCO’s presence on campus, Sussman has worked to increase access to resources that students with disabilities or chronic illness may need, such as those provided by Student Accessibility and Support Services (SASS). Earlier this year, for example, Sussman worked with SASS to create a pre-orientation program for disabled students so they could come to campus early to learn about the resources available to them at Kenyon.
The idea for the alumni network came from Jerry Mindes ’77, who has spent most of his career working to advance disability rights in the United States and to bridge the gap between disability rights and international development assistance. He has worked with organizations that support those with disabilities to ensure that they are involved in the design and implementation of foreign aid programs so that they will best support those individuals.
After Mindes learned about DISCO, he reached out to Sussman and then spoke with Vice President of Student Affairs Celestino Limas, Dean for Career Development Lee Schott and Director of Student Accessibility and Support Services Ruthann Daniel-Harteis, all of whom gave him and the organization permission to form an alumni network. “I know that there are Kenyon alumni involved in advancing disability rights in the US and globally, and thought that alumni engagement could be of use to DISCO students and could help make Kenyon even more inclusive and welcoming,” he wrote in an email to the Collegian.
Now that the alumni network has been established, Mindes plans to stay involved by raising awareness about DISCO and recruiting other alumni who may be interested in joining. He said that the College sent a notice to all Kenyon alumni this week in an effort to bring attention to the group.
Emily Blum ’96, the executive director of Chicago non-profit Disability Lead and a part of the alumni network, is hopeful that DISCO will continue to grow and thrive. “There is so much power in embracing one’s identity and being able to show up in spaces whole and fully as oneself! So my hope is that there are a growing number of students who do that at Kenyon and beyond,” she wrote in an email to the Collegian. “By doing just that they are changing the narrative and culture of what it means to be disabled. GO DISCO OWLS!”
Hannah Sussman ’25 is an opinions editor at the Collegian.