Disabilities Task Force
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Recommendations to New York State for strategies to increase access
2. Institutional Commitment within Postsecondary Education (continued)
The benefit to colleges and universities of recommitting to enrolling and graduating students with disabilities is obvious: a broader pool of talented applicants from which to choose; but also a more diverse campus, a diversity that offers all students both a more invigorating educational experience, and more direct experience in dealing with the sort of diversity that operating in our global economy now demands. It is interesting to note, though, that students with disabilities make very concrete contributions besides adding to the overall academic and campus life experience at colleges and universities. Nationally, according to the U.S. Department of Education, college students with disabilities devote more time to volunteer activities than students without disabilities, even as they participate equally in extracurricular activities from clubs and social events to athletics.
Unfortunately, today some of New York's best and brightest students choose out-of-state institutions that do understand the contributions that students with disabilities make to academic and campus life, and that actively advertise their openness and accessibility as a way to recruit talented students with disabilities. According to SUNY's 1996 report, Student Migration and the State University, the fall 1994 migration of New York State residents to attend college out of state was 25,989 for first-time, full-time students. To stem the flow of such students out of New York, and to tap the pool of talented students that exists here, all of the state's institutions of postsecondary education should reevaluate their commitment to openness and access by taking a new look at all aspects of their recruitment, academic and nonacademic programs, faculty and staff training programs and other policies with an eye toward building a vibrant base of students that more truly reflects our society's diversity.