After three years of research + preparation coupled with another year of pandemic-prompted delays, Duke plans to become 1 of just 9 universities across the country to feature a disability cultural center, senior Maddie Fowler told the Duke Chronicle in a recent interview.
“At Duke there is a lot of this idea that disability is something you need to have an accommodation for and that’s all,” Maddie said. “Disability is so much more than that — different and unique challenges that we need support for.”
Maddie currently serves as an executive board member for the Duke Disability Alliance, the organization responsible for pitching the center to Duke’s administration + seeing the project through to fruition.
The cultural center will offer meetings spaces for disability-related organizations, a study room, and a disability studies library. Social events will also be held in the center throughout the year.
It will be located in the Bryan Center — which is essentially Duke’s student union and also houses the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity + The Center for Multicultural Affairs.
As of now, the center is slated to open later this semester, pending COVID-19 conditions.
According to Maddie, the purpose of the Center is to show that disabilities are experienced every day, not on an on-and-off basis — they influence a person’s culture, experiences + overall identity. You can learn more about the Duke Disability Alliance’s work here.