Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

DISCO’s Neurodivergent Nights Center Community

Attempting to foster inclusivity and nurture a supportive and safe environment, DISCO was established as a dedicated club for disabled students at Whitman, enriching campus life and breaking down barriers while centering the importance of diversity.

Sophomore Eleanor D’Ambrosia, president of DISCO, explained how the Neurodivergent Nights the club started hosting this semester align with the club’s broader mission. 

“The DISCO is a Disability Affinity group on campus where we provide a place for disabled students and also advocate for them. I want to make it known that we are out there and we are a safe space for neurodivergent students,” D’Ambrosia said. 

First-year and DISCO member Joel Larrabee agreed, explaining how the Neurodivergent Nights provided a critical sense of unity.

“I like the sense of community that you get from meeting a bunch of other people that have some kind of marginalized status of extra psychological needs during the Neurodivergent Nights. It is very nice to meet people similar to you because a lot of times it feels like you are the only one dealing with these difficulties,” Larrabee said. 

At the start of her presidency, D’Ambrosia made it her goal to ensure the Whitman community knew DISCO was a space where disability was celebrated and community can be nurtured.

“I heard a lot of students, especially autistic students, on campus express a want for their own space. Once I became president of DISCO this fall, I decided that we were going to have a space for not just those with autism, but for people that are neurodivergent in any sort of way,” D’Ambrosia said. “During the Neurodivergent Nights, we have different activities to create a space where people can not feel so pressured to be “masked,” and find a community of those who share similar interests and challenges as well.” 

Hosting monthly Neuodivergent Nights has helped offer a transformative space that has become a haven for creating genuine connections where students can prioritize their engagement with one another. The Neurodivergent Nights have created a sense of community where students can share passions and experiences.

Joel Larrabee reflected on how helpful Neurodivergent Nights have been within the club, and explained how lessons from these nights can be taken into everyday life. 

“The most important thing is that, if we need space, just give us space. A lot of times, neurological disabilities can come with sensory issues that can be really hard to deal with in certain situations. Just understanding and keeping an open dialogue is really helpful,” said Larrabee. 

At the events, open communication and understanding have been centered as paramount to forming an inclusive and accommodating environment for all in attendance.

When The Wire first reported on DISCO after it was created in 2021, the group’s founders reflected on the club’s purposes and intentions.

“DISCO is a place where we recognize and understand all shades of disability, and it is not a space exclusive for a certain kind of disability or ability level. It is a space for anyone who experiences a disability or difference,” Group founder Sueli Gwiazdowski told The Wire in 2021.

It’s clear that through the continual growth that DISCO has experienced, the club has stayed true to this aim and fostered connection across various identities in the disability community.

DISCO’s Neurodivergent Nights are a vital initiative that creates a more inclusive campus environment. These nights not only serve as a testament to the club’s commitment to raising awareness about the needs of neurodivergent students, but also speak to the strength of affinity groups as a community builder. 

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