The UCC Student’s Union today announced the launch a new Autism Friendly University Project in collaboration with Asiam.ie, the Disability Support Services and the Registrar’s office in UCC.
The aim of the project is to make UCC a more autism-friendly environment to ensure that all students succeed to the very best of their abilities. As a part of this project, the SU will be renovating the Old Bar space to create a Sensory Room and Quiet Room for students to escape from campus during its busiest times. This refurbishment will include a lift, accessible bathrooms and gender-neutral cubicles to make the building fully accessible for every student in UCC. The Old Bar has been virtually unused, apart from hosting events during Raise and Give week, ever since the SU took control of the premises.
The establishment of the project itself came about through a collaboration between the SU, DSS and the Registrar’s office, who have been working on the project for a number of months. The development of the space in the old bar is to be funded by the Student Charges and Fees Forum, to which the SU put in a joint application alongside the DSS last May. The remainder of the project has been driven by the DSS and the Registrar’s office in collaboration with the SU. Following this, Dr Maire Leane, from the Registrar’s Office, was appointed as chairperson of the steering committee which consisted of a mix of both staff and student representatives across the university.
“The project first came about when I suggested it during my election to disability rights officer. It was evident that quiet spaces are few and far between, especially during busy times like SU Elections and Raise and Give to name a few” The UCC SU’s Disability Rights Officer, Rosemary Kelly, noted when speaking about the project. “We took it upon ourselves to organise and supervise a trial run in the SU common room which ended up being a huge success. So we proposed a motion to the sabbatical officers in student council to invest in a permanent space and it simply took off from there”.
Since then the project has built momentum and can now offer students with Autism the opportunity to work to the best of their ability as part of the UCC community. “This kind of space can potentially be the difference between students remaining in education and pursuing a degree, or dropping out due to the impact on their health” Rosemary adds, “A lot of hard work from the Equality Working Group, the sabbatical officers, the DSS etc. is really starting to pay off “.
“UCC is a busy and vibrant campus, however sometimes this can be challenging for our students” UCC SU Deputy President & Campaigns Officer, Kelly Coyle, added, “The creation of the sensory room and the quiet area will provide a safe haven for students in the middle of our campus where they can go whenever they need to. This project is an incredible step in the right direction to making UCC a University that is inclusive and accessible for every single student and we are incredibly excited to get going on the project”.