KSA reps plan to tackle issues facing students with disabilities

Councillors say KPU is listening to their concerns and listed top cases as action items

Lesli Sangha, Mature Rep (left) and Jaya Dhillon, Disability Rep (right). (file photos)

The two newest, and only, Kwantlen Student Association councillors Jaya Dhillon and Lesli Sangha say they plan to tackle issues among students with disabilities, while setting goals for the summer semester to educate students about the KSA and get them involved with the organization.

“[Some students] know a bit, but they don’t know how to navigate the website, or they might not be too familiar with student council, what the KSA offers,” says Dhillon, who was elected to the Students with Disabilities Representative position in March.

At a council meeting on May 7, Dhillon was appointed as Vice President of University Affairs.

She was also appointed to the following committees: Internal Environmental Sustainability, Finance and Operations, External Affairs, Governance, Student Life, Executive, Social Justice & Equity, University Affairs.

Sangha, who serves in the Mature Students Representative position, was appointed to the Internal, Environmental Sustainability, Finance & Operations, External Affairs, Governance, Student Life, Social Justice & Equity, and University Affairs committees.

Sangha and Dhillon are planning on hosting a Q&A seminar through Zoom for students who wish to know more about the KSA. Dhillon says she hopes that this session will attract students to join the council and attend any future KSA events.

“We are trying to plan more student engagement for the summer, because I know it slows down. So hopefully frees up more time for the students, and there are less courses being taken. But that’s what we’re trying to do,” says Dhillon.

They are also planning on hosting an event for National Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21.

“We know that the day is coming up … so we want to see if there’s anything that we can highlight with the elders, something that we can put together virtually,” says Sangha.

The two representatives are also working on making the Online Self Service website for awards more accessible for students with disabilities.

“[We are] looking at maybe streamlining the process for students with disabilities to better find the awards and bursaries … on the OSS,” says Sangha, who had to click all the awards individually to see if she was qualified to apply.

“That’s a very difficult, tedious process for someone with disabilities. So these are, again, just ideas and lived experience from my perspective and I want to make that process a little bit easier,” she adds.

Sangha says she came across awards that were specifically targeted to individuals from the Access Programs, which provide options for work and volunteer experience for adults with permanent disabilities or a combination of learning difficulties.

However, not all students with disabilities can get into the program. They have to go through an interview with the KPU Access Program Department, and they need to have learning difficulties that hinder scholastic success, and satisfactory English proficiency as assessed according to departmental guidelines.

Aside from the OSS awards website, Sangha says that they are working on making it easier for students with disabilities to opt-out of the U-Pass, so that students who don’t use it can be exempted from paying it for the rest of their time at KPU.

“It seems that maybe individuals that do not have a medical background are making the decisions on students being exempt,” she says.

“We already have KPU listening. And some of our ideas and concerns have already been listed as action items.”

The councillors also say they will be taking a look at other issues students are facing.

“There were things that I noticed that maybe others didn’t notice. For example, I wanted to make sure that there was anti-racism happening, I wanted to make sure that there were resources available for students during the pandemic, I want to make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity at KPU,” says Dhillon.

“The fact that we have two councillors… it’s fine,” Sangha says. “As long as the council consists of people like Jaya and myself, who really want to make a difference in the everyday life of students, and on-campus life for students, that’s all that matters.”