by Kayla Floyd
Senior communication major Katelyn Wilderdyke said, “The thoroughness and authentic care they [DOSS] have shown me has absolutely blown me away. DOSS has come alongside me and advocated for me when I have not been able to advocate for myself.”
According the University of Northwestern – St. Paul website “The purpose of Disabilities Office for Support Services is there to offer students with unique challenges the support needed to experience full access to Northwestern’s community.” Some students may have never heard of DOSS, and some may use it daily. The DOSS offices are located on the fourth floor of Nazareth Hall and are open to all students.
Sophomore public relations major, Morgan Tolly is a student ambassador for Northwestern. “When I was being trained to become an ambassador we listened to a seminar by the DOSS program where we learned the abilities and benefits that DOSS has on campus,” said Tolly. Students are more than able to go to DOSS at any time and get help and adjustments made to suit them.
“I think that some students don’t know enough about DOSS, and that they could be of an even bigger use than they currently are on campus,” said Tolly. “I think people should be made aware during Disabilities Awareness Week of the purpose of DOSS.”
DOSS works with the different departments of Northwestern, and outside organizations if further help is necessary to provide accommodations. DOSS keeps track of the student’s needs so that they can work hand-in-hand with students and parents as they discover what is best for the student. DOSS works with all kinds of disabilities including physical, medical, learning or psychological.
DOSS is an example of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973: Section 504 and Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Release forms are also required for all students that work with DOSS.
Some students were willing to share stories from their use of DOSS. Kasiha Pattee, a former Northwestern student who withdrew this past year, had a unique experience with DOSS. Pattee said, “I received a concussion 1.5 years ago now and have been in and out of school since, with no completed semesters. This semester I returned feeling like it was realistic that I could be successful, and my doctor agreed. I had the proper documentation from the Courage Kenny Brain Clinic, which stated I needed accommodations. I went to Ruth Fries office the first week of classes and continued to follow up with emails and more office visits.”
Pattee continued, “By mid-semester I still had none of the accommodations that I required. I specifically had to request that we have a meeting. The meeting included my mom, my advisor Joel Light, who was by far the most helpful, David Golias and myself. After an hour and a half meeting, each of us had our “homework”… [Golias] He was asked to email the brain clinic with any other questions he had so these accommodations could be put in place. He was also asked to arrange a department meeting for the biology department where all staff, myself and David Golias would be there. Neither were done. My brain has damaged pathways, which means I learn differently and have some challenges that a normal course doesn’t test in ways that work.”
Pattee continued by saying, “I’ve had previous occasions where I worked with DOSS toward the beginning of my concussion, now classified a moderate TBI, where it was a more positive experience. I know these are people who are trying to help and they are overwhelmed in their department.”
Another story is that of Katelyn Wilderdyke, who uses DOSS for multiple reasons. Wilderdyke said, “DOSS has been absolutely amazing during my experience at Northwestern. I have a cluster of autoimmune diseases which have occasionally made being a student really difficult. From the day I arrived on campus freshman year, DOSS has made every effort to make my college experience just as normal as it is for every other student. The DOSS staff all understand the difficulty of suffering from chronic health problems while being a full-time college student.”