Southern’s Unsung Hero: Goldie Adele
Melissa Nuñez – Opinions & Features Editor
The Disability Resource Center (DRC) provides students, faculty and staff with disabilities information and accommodations to ensure their experience at Southern is enjoyable. The DRC director, Goldie Adele, has been the head of the DRC for over five years and said their office strives to ensure students with disabilities can access the tools they need to succeed at Southern.
“To create a welcoming environment for [students] on campus, both in the classroom and out of the classroom,” said Adele, “that involves working with faculty to educate them about our students and the services we provide and being able to provide continued services for our students: whether that is sign language interpreters or note taking services.”
Adele said the DRC offers accommodations such as more time to take tests, providing auxiliary aids, technical support at the Center for Adaptive Technology Lab, housing accommodations and much more.
As the DRC director, Adele said he insures the university complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, manages cases, handles the office’s budgets, supervises office staff, and represents the DRC on and off campus to advocate both for students and the office. But Adele emphasized it is a combined effort; that the staff and student workers are what helps the DRC ably serve its purpose.
Adele added while he and each specialist individually manage their own cases, when a student comes into the office it is their responsibility to make sure they leave with their questions and concerns addressed: regardless of what their question is or who their specialist normally is.
“We are a source of support: so if they encounter any issues, even if they know that it is something that is not [dealt with] in our office and they do not know who to talk to, they can come to us and we can connect them to the right people on campus,” said Adele, “[we are] a place they can feel comfortable with, they can come back here if they run into any issues or problems.”
Adele said, in an effort to educate and include others on campus, the DRC also participates a lot of outreach, such as celebrating Disability Awareness Month and working with student organizations like Outreach Unlimited and Zeta Delta Epsilon. He added the DRC also often collaborates with other offices on campus to ensure the needs of their students are properly met.
“Part of the advocacy is just working with faculty and working with other student organizations, trying to create a welcoming environment,” said Adele. “For example, if the elevator is not working, then we will talk to [Facilities Operations] to fix the problem or if it is snowing and the path is not clear, we will talk with [Facilities Operations] to clear it.”
Adele added it is also important to help students feel at ease when accessing the services the DRC provides.
“There are a lot of students who have a disability and chose not to use our services because of the stigma,” said Adele. “So to make them feel comfortable so that they can come here anytime that they need help and to provide them with the tools that they need to succeed at Southern.”
Adele added that being in a position to help students flourish at Southern and then watching them receive their diplomas is one of the greatest aspects of being a part of the DRC.