CUSA to crowdfund for accessible housing

For most Carleton students, moving off campus boils down to finding a place to live that is well-priced and within a reasonable distance from the university. But for students with disabilities, this process can be much more difficult, if not impossible.

That’s why the Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) is planning to start a crowdfunding campaign to support students with disabilities who face elevated living expenses.

CUSA president Zameer Masjedee said limitations on accessible housing are so severe that many students with disabilities have no choice but to live on campus.

“Because there just isn’t accessible housing in the community . . . once students are accepted to Carleton residence in an accessible room with attendant services and everything, they’re essentially forced to live there for all four years of their [university] career,” Masjedee said.

Travis Lindgren, CUSA’s general manager, said that while Carleton does a good job providing funds for students with disabilities, the funding is limited.

The crowdfunding idea came about after Matthew Cole, the executive director of Attendant Services, approached CUSA seeking a $25,000 donation from Carleton’s accessibility fund in order to create a bursary that would help pay for some of the extra living expenses students with disabilities face.

According to Masjedee, the accessibility fund was created to make Carleton more accessible, aid individual students with special needs, and raise awareness for issues surrounding disabilities. While CUSA has not ruled out using money from the fund to contribute to the bursary, he said the association has decided to take a different approach to funding a minimum of $25,000.

Masjedee explained that a single donation from the fund is not the favored option, because it seems unlikely “that a one-time donation is really going to solve the issue,” and a crowdfunding campaign will involve more students. The newly-proposed campaign is slated to be run by the Carleton Disability Awareness Centre (CDAC).

“This is not just a money issue, it’s also an awareness issue, and a crowdfunding campaign would be able to address both of those things,” Masjedee said.

According to Masjedee, the campaign would be modelled after other online crowdfunding campaigns in that it would be promoted largely online, and through social and news media.

Lindgren added that in preparation for the campaign, CUSA is speaking to students with disabilities about the housing difficulties they face and gathering relevant data to provide to potential corporations and sponsors.

Masjedee said the fundraising campaign is still in its infancy, and is not scheduled to be launched until the second semester. The Charlatan reached out to the CDAC co-ordinators for comment, but they later retracted their response because the campaign is still in the planning stage.

Photo by Meagan Casalino