Student Empowerment Day

What is Student Empowerment Day?

Student Empowerment Day is an opportunity for students in New York State to share their voices with state legislators and advocate for a continued state budget for "Enhancing Supports for Disability Services Offices" across New York State.

While $2 million has already been approved, we are traveling to Albany to rally behind the State Education Department’s request to earmark $13 million in additional funds of their budget toward support for students with disabilities in higher education. Our goal is to get the attention of the NY State Senate, Assembly, and Governor.  

Students with disabilities in colleges continue to grow. There are now over 80,000 registered students with disabilities in higher education in NY. The time to act is now!

Why is it important?

The enhanced funding could be used by colleges and universities to provide a variety of resources and opportunities for students with disabilities. This could include academic coaching, modified experiential learning opportunities, accessibility in classrooms and laboratories, professional development for faculty and staff, and additional support for mental health resources and services.

Historically, colleges and universities have had to financially support basic accommodations and services for students with disabilities on their own, leading to disparities in the student experience based on the financial situation of the institution. Student Empowerment Day is an opportunity for students to advocate for continued funding to legislators and ensure that all students with disabilities in New York State have an equal opportunity to succeed.

How can I participate?

Student Disability Services at Cornell is sponsoring a day trip to Albany for this event (February 8th).

Register to attend! Breakfast and lunch will be provided, as well as transportation.

Can I participate if I cannot go to Albany?

Yes! There will be opportunities for students to participate following the February 8th event. Please complete the registration form to be included in this opportunity.

Reasons to attend

  • Collaborate with statewide coalitions
  • Meet legislators, their staff, and other important political contacts
  • Support NY common issues for increased support for mental health and employment for people with disabilities
  • Network with other students from around New York state
  • Discover the legislative process and how to lobby legislators.

Who is sponsoring this year's Empowerment Day?

  • New York State Disability Services Council (NYSDSC)
  • CUNY Council on Student Disability Issue (COSDI)
  • New York Coalition of Students with Disabilities in Higher Education
  • The City of University of NY University Student Senate (USS)
  • SUNY Student Assembly
  • College student groups’ senate groups
  • CUNY coalition for Students with Disabilities (CCSD)
  • New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG)
  • Disability Culture Center – Syracuse University (DCC)

What is the history of Empowerment Day?

Historically, colleges and universities across New York State have not received budgetary support from the state to provide accommodations and auxiliary services for students with disabilities. In 2019 organizations across New York state, including New York Coalition of Students with Disabilities in Higher Education, New York State Disability Services Council (NYSDSC), CUNY Council on Student Disability Issue (COSDI), and SUNY Student Assembly created Student Empowerment Day. This was an opportunity for students across New York State to gather in Albany and share their collective voices to advocate for a state-supported budget line.

In 2023, we are organizing to share with legislators in Albany, the importance of continued disability funding to New York State colleges and universities. These funds have already provided much needed support to our student and we want to share that with our legislators. In addition, we are asking for an increase in funding to better position New York State to offer unparalleled support and opportunities for students with disabilities.

For more information

Please email Cyrus Hamilton-Ferguson with any questions. For a timely response, include "Empowerment Day" in the email subject.