The number of students enrolled in the Disabilities Resource Center has increased by more than 200 students since 2016-17, and more than doubled over 10 years, records show.
Over the 10 years, enrollment in ARCHES – a federally funded program under the DRC that provides academic support services to students with disabilities – remained at 150 students – even as ARCHES funding decreased.
Reduced funding means less is available than needed to meet student needs.
“It is not enough money to do what we are doing,” ARCHES Program Coordinator Patricia Durán-Quezada said.
DRC officials did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.
ARCHES stands for Achievement Retention and Commitment to Higher Education Success and is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
ARCHES currently serves 150 students each year and accepts applications from new participants throughout the academic year, according the ARCHES web site.
Students receive support services from time of acceptance through graduation.
The number of students enrolled in the Disabilities Resource Center has increased by more than 200 students, increasing from 535 to 740, since 2016-2017.
DRC enrollment has more than doubled in the last 10 years, increasing from 313 to 740.
During the 10 years, enrollment ARCHES remained at 150 students.
ARCHES received approximately $2.8 million in total over the last 10 years.
From 2010-2015 ARCHES received $290,000 every year, and from 2016-2021 the program will receive $281,000 annually.
Funding is received through a grant competition in which programs are judged based on effectiveness.
Persistence rates, remaining in from freshman to sophomore year, and graduation rates are most heavily weighed in the competition.
ARCHES’ persistence rate is 97 percent, and graduation rate is 59 percent.
According to the U.S. Department of Education website, each program is awarded money based on the total points accrued through a judging process.
The U.S. Department of Education awarded 968 schools a total of $270 million from 2016-2021.
The awards range from $115,000 to $1.5 million.
There is no guarantee of specific funding, but program funding averages $290,000.
“If we received enough money and we were to have more resources then we could service more people,” Quezada said.
Most students struggle to wake up for their 8 a.m. class or to turn in an assignment on time.
The services that the DRC and ARCHES provide make a difference in the lives of students enrolled in these programs.
Each student’s case is unique to need.
For sophomore psychology student Tori North, the modified attendance and notetaking services help her succeed academically.
“I’m busy writing down a lot of stuff. It’s cool to be able to look at someone else’s notes and its supplemental to what I have,” North said. “The modified attendance helps because I can’t put off the doctor appointments.”
She visits a doctor up to five times a month, which is less than she has in the past.
Sometimes other students don’t understand why she is allowed to miss class so often.
“I personally am embarrassed because I look like a very well abled person,” North said. “I don’t want anyone to think ‘Why does she get those accommodations?’”
ARCHES is in it’s 21st year of operation.
Within that time funding has decreased by 10 percent.
The lack of funding for these programs starts to show outside of normal business hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
For students who work and go to school, finding individual tutoring can be difficult.
“The DRC doesn’t offer tutoring,” Junior Hospitality student Starla Hampton said. “I’m enrolled in ARCHES program, and they provide my tutoring, but with my schedule being so extensive this quarter, they can’ t accommodate me.”
The ARCHES staff is comprised of three professional employees and two peer mentors.
The tutoring staff is typically between from six to 10 people.
Not being able to see students after hours is the result of the lack of funding.
To be accepted into ARCHES, one must be a Cal Poly Pomona Student, be registered with the DRC and be a U.S. citizen, national or permanent resident.
At least one-third of students enrolled in ARCHES must be from low-income households.
“Our goal is to keep students here and to graduate them,” Quezada said.
ARCHES works closely with the DRC, which reviews documentation and prescribes accommodations.
ARCHES can accommodate 150 students as stipulated by the requirements set by the government.
ARCHES is not an at-risk program.
Students must demonstrate the ability to be successful at the university.
ARCHES offers a personal experience through some of the services provided.
ARCHES deals with all colleges on campus.
“We don’t work with one college. All of our students are in all the majors,” Quezada said. “We really have to know a little bit about everything.”
ARCHES assist student with curriculums and class substitutions for semester conversion.
ARCHES offers personal tutors, disability counseling, peer mentors and counselors to help with academic struggles.
“For many of our students, this is the only place they feel safe to have conversations about their disability,” Quezada said.
They also offer workshops targeting time management and study skills among other needs.
This is maybe where the DRC and ARCHES help the most.
An important function of the DRC and ARCHES is to build awareness of accommodations among students and professors.
“They [DRC or ARCHES] usually send an email to the professor stating that I do need these resources and this a class that would require me to have these accommodations,” senior Hospitality student Yeraz Benlian said.
One of these accommodations is note taking.
Students are asked to upload notes that they take during class.
If they agree, they receive a small payment.
However, sometimes students do not agree and that leaves students like Benlian more reliant on their own notes when they may have missed something.
“The biggest struggle is the lack of disability awareness on campus,” Quezada said.
Student enrollment who are on the autism spectrum disorder has increased every year.
Some 25 percent of students enrolled in ARCHES have ADHD.
“It’s such negative language that perpetuates these negative stigmas about these programs and our students feel those stigmas,” Quezada said.
Some of these students have not had the opportunity to take behavioral coaching.
It is the lack of campus disability awareness and the use of offensive language such as “retard” that concerns students and staff from ARCHES.
Students with “invisible disabilities” should be referred to as individuals with intellectual disabilities.
“There are a lot of people who are going through things, whether you can see it or not. It is important to be aware of any possibility,” North said.
If the trend continues, more students will be enrolled in the DRC next year, and ARCHES will continue to assist the same number of students with less funding.
In the past decade, as the number of students enrolled in the DRC increased and the number of students accommodated by ARCHES remained the same, the percent of DRC students enrolled in ARCHES has declined from 46 percent to 20 percent.
Only more federal funding can help ensure the needs of students requiring services from are ARCHES are met.
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