Student senate discusses creation of uniform testing center

By Drew Howard | 3/27/16 9:46pm

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GVL / Kasey Garvelink - Student senate members were able to vote on what they favored for an upcoming event at the student senate meeting on Mar. 24, 2016 in Allendale.

by Kasey Garvelink / Grand Valley Lanthorn

Taking a test causes stress for most students, and even more so for those living with a disability.

During a general assembly on March 24, the Grand Valley State University student senate discussed a resolution to create a uniform testing center in coordination with the Disability Support Resources (DSR) office that would meet the needs of all students on campus.

While the DSR already provides testing accommodations for all students, it doesn’t have one uniform center that’s designed specifically for such purposes. If created, the center would be designed for both students with disabilities as well as those looking to make up a test outside of the classroom.

Statistics from the DSR reveal that there are currently 700 students registered with disabilities at the center, which equates to about 2.8 percent of the student population.

The resolution, which recognizes that one center would greatly simplify the test-taking process, is sponsored by senators Jonathan Bowman of the campus affairs committee and Madison Rhoades of the diversity affairs committee. At the meeting, student senate President Maddie Cleghorn opened up the floor for discussion about the possible benefits of the center.

Rhoades said the creation of a testing center would help get rid of the stigma attached to individuals with learning disabilities.

“The center would not only help unify things and take the load off of the (DSR), but it also helps erase a bit of the stigma off of the people who need to go to the center for testing accommodations, so they don’t get singled out,” Rhoades said.

According to the Campus Climate Survey preliminary results, 88 percent of those with disabilities said they were either “very comfortable” or “comfortable” with the campus climate.

However, 24 percent of those with disabilities also reported having a negative experience on campus.

Senator Noelle Milad expressed support for the resolution, stating the center would help to create an even more inclusive campus.

“We looked at some numbers in the Campus Climate Survey results about how comfortable people with disabilities feel, physical or nonphysical,” Milad said. “It wasn’t that a lot of people feel uncomfortable, but I think (the center) would help raise the number of people who do feel comfortable because they have more resource to go to, academic-wise.”

Maria Beelen, vice president of educational affairs, added that the current system at the DSR is too convoluted and not effective.

“There’s so many people you need to email, and then people don’t reply and then it takes three weeks to take an exam,” Beelen said. “It would help so much to have just one place so they don’t have four different people talking to four other people. Right now, it’s not really a center. There’s not one thing to support all the communication.”

According to a survey conducted by the DSR on 143 faculty members, 90 percent said they were in support of the testing center.

None of the senators present at the meeting expressed disapproval of the testing center.

The student senate is expected to vote on the resolution during its next meeting on March 31.

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