The Center for Neurodiversity forms student council to increase inclusivity and education on campus

Rowan's Center for Neurodiversity will form a student council to address the needs and amplify voices of people in the neurodivergent community. - Graphics Editor / Julia Quennessen

A student council recently opened up as a new opportunity for Rowan students interested in supporting the neurodiverse community. Last week, it was announced on the Rowan Announcer that the Center for Neurodiversity was developing a student council for their facility, allowing students who were interested to sign up using a Google Form. It was mostly for students interested in supporting neurodiversity initiatives on the Rowan campus. 

The form has gotten attention from several students on campus and for Co-Director Chiara Latimer, this demonstrates a promising result of becoming a tool for students who are neurodivergent. The main focus of this council is to have students’ voices heard and provide ideas of how Rowan University can become more active in representing those who are neurodivergent. 

The mission of the Center of Neurodiversity has always been to demonstrate the value of neurodivergent culture by providing programming, research, and community engagement. The support doesn’t end with students, this research is also delving into the neurodivergent faculty and staff at Rowan as well. Prioritizing the increase in inclusivity involving this community has been a substantial reason as to why the center has sparked conversations for creating a neurodiversity council. 

“It is basically providing an opportunity for students to direct how they want the center to support neurodivergent students on campus so it is taking into account what the students want and need. I consider it to be a space to be social and learn more about the people in the community,” said Georgia Majka, the program coordinator for the Center of Neurodiversity.

The center hopes to expand its outreach to more students and faculty members who may be unsure of what the neurodivergent community is. This would help bring more informational events, panels, and educate those who are uncertain of what this is about. Latimer has created lots of goals for the council as it continues to grow, the main one being education. 

“I hope that the work that is being done by the Center of Neurodiversity is continuing to be championed by neurodivergent people and mostly by our students. My goal is to learn what their experience is like to be a neurodivergent student at Rowan. We want to know what it is like for their housing, what it is like to join clubs, what it is like in the classroom, for us it’s across the board,” said Latimer.

The Center of Neurodiversity has a lot of people and resources who are there for the neurodivergent community that believe there is nobody on campus who can assist them. These staff members include Co-Director John Woodruff, who is the director of accessibility services at Rowan University. His main purpose on campus is to manage the way students with disabilities transition on campus as first-year students. Zosia Zaks is the visiting scholar in residence for the Center of Neurodiversity, which focuses on the inclusion of these students at Rowan. 

The formation of this council can be confused by those on campus with the existing Student Neurodiversity Club which serves to advocate for neurodivergent students who want to learn more about other students. However, the council focuses on examining how the students work in different settings like classrooms and social events. They also research ways to improve their time here at Rowan.

Latimer recalls the time that the council last relaunched. A couple of years ago, the center had started to transition into a new location and at the same time was also trying to form the new student council. This did not happen as the council is now relaunching again but in the past, there was still student interest for this. There were even a few meetings with faculty advisors and a couple of students who did attend that meeting. The hopes for this new council are different because this time there is an advisory board that is already formed. 

“The possibility of an e-board in the future really is dependent on the students and what they envision for the council. We also need to find out what their commitment looks like before deciding on creating an e-board or possibly we are thinking of being chartered in another capacity,” said Latimer.

The new student council at the Center for Neurodiversity is a big step towards increasing the neurodivergent community’s involvement at Rowan University. As the Rowan population increases, the number of neurodivergent students increases too, which is why more accommodations will be found on campus at the Center. 

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