A group of Fordham Law students recently came together to launch the Law School’s newest affinity group, the Disabled & Allied Law Students Association (DALSA), to provide peer support for students with disabilities and serve as a platform for advocacy and outreach.
DALSA President Stephanie Diu ‘23 says that the pandemic has only increased issues of equity and access for students with disabilities. When she was putting together her fall semester schedule—taking all her classes online—Diu says she was nervous about how accomodations might work for her hearing loss. “Everyone has to deal with some level of isolation in a pandemic,” she says. “Director of Student Affairs Abel Montez was a great resource who made sure I had what I needed on an administrative level.”
The experience inspired her to seek support from fellow students. “I wished there was a way to connect,” says Diu. “I saw the need for an affinity group for students with disabilities and allies, and I was so grateful when other students responded and helped get DALSA started.”
The group—which held its first general body meeting on November 2 and currently has 23 members—is led by Diu, Caroline Johnson ‘22 (treasurer), Devin Perez ‘22 (director of operations), Cristina Pardo ‘23 (director of outreach), and Emma Evans ‘23 (1L representative). Together, their mission is to gather students with disabilities and disability allies into a unified community, fortifying on-campus visibility and working against industry shortcomings to improve inclusivity.
Through upcoming events, DALSA members plan to connect with and provide support to Fordham Law students with disabilities, demystify the accommodations process at Fordham, and destigmatize disability in the legal industry by fostering education and open dialogue.
“We’re planning casual fun events, such as a virtual gathering for the holidays and a welcome-back event after winter break with a raffle,” Diu added. “We’re also working on educational events such as a panel in the spring about requesting accommodations for the bar exam and Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination.”
DALSA, in the meantime, is looking to connect with alumni as well. Interested Fordham Law students and alumni can reach out via email (email@example.com) or through social media on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.