Monday, November 19, 2012

Interview with Delta Alpha Pi President, Brian Singer

Brian Singer is the President of Delta Alpha Pi, an honor society associated with Services for Students with Disabilities, and he was generous enough to sit down with me and discuss what his honor society does and how it works to reach out to students with disabilities and get them involved in their community.

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Thank you for coming, Brian.  So first off, could you please give us some basic information about Delta Alpha Pi?
Certainly.  Delta Alpha Pi is an honor society here on campus that inducts students who are registered with the Services for Students with Disabilities office and have grade point averages higher than 3.1.  We're relatively new, started in 2010, and I am actually one of the only original members remaining.  A lot of our inductees graduated throughout these past couple of years, but we're about to add 22 new members to our ranks this semester; and because we've had so many students graduate, we've actually been inducting on a semesterly basis.

That's fantastic.  It's great to know this is really a thriving piece of campus life.  Tell me, what does your society do for its members? What kind of events do you hold?
Well, again, since we're still pretty new on campus we're still trying to get involved in more events, but we did co-sponsor "Jail-and-Bail," which was a fundraiser event that we worked with Hofstra Goes for Gold and OSLA, where the proceeds went to Special Olympics.  Students were able to purchase "warrants" out for another students arrest.  Public Safety would find the individual based on the details provided in the warrant and bring them to a wooden jail which was set up in the middle of the student center.  The jailed student would then have to raise "bail" money by any available means to be released.  Everything was completely voluntary, we were able to raise $6,600 for special Olympics, and we plan on making this an annual event!

That sounds like a lot of fun for a great cause.  Do you do any other kinds of outreach?
We also get connected with employers in the area to make sure our members have opportunities to find jobs after leaving campus.  It's great because a lot of the employers actually reach out to us because they know we provide that resource for students with disabilities and these employers are eager equal-opportunity employers.  When we meet, we want to make sure we provide all of the services our members need and keep them informed about what is available for them.  If they're looking for it, it's out there.

How often do you meet?
We try to meet about once every month.  Obviously, we want wheelchair accessible rooms and we understand some of our members have trouble getting around so while we want to meet as often as possible, we don't want to make things difficult. And as I said before, we use our meeting times to inform our members and make sure they know what's available to them. In the early days our meetings were based a lot on our e-board (the Treasurer, Secretary, Vice-President and President), but now that we've been around for a while and we're organized, we want to focus as much as we can on our members.

What advice would you give to the parents and families of students with disabilities?
My advice would be that parents should tell their students not to be afraid to step out of their comfort zone.  They shouldn't be afraid of the stigma of having a disability, they should be confident and overcome it.  They should learn to be their own number one advocates.

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If you have a student with a disability and would like to learn more about what services Hofstra University can offer him or her, please visit the Services for Students with Disabilities website here: http://www.hofstra.edu/StudentAffairs/stddis/index.html

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