DSPS Students: Unveiling the stereotype


Story By: Lauren Baker, Artistic Director

There are many students at Fresno City College in need of assistance with their academic careers. Unfortunately, most students do not realize that there is a program available to them for this purpose. That resource is the FCC DSPS Program. Its an unfortunate circumstance that there are students in need of alternate assistance with their schooling, but many are reluctant to reach out for it due to unfair and false stereotypes regarding a DSPS student and what that actually means.

According to the Fresno City College home page, a DSPS student is defined as a student that has “learning, physical, or psychological disabilities” that hinders the progression towards success. Upon conducting an open survey on campus, the majority of students did not know that the DSPS Program existed. Similarly on a ratio of 7 to 2, most students did not know what DSPS services were available. Half the students surveyed had a basic understanding of what a learning disability is, while others thought it was specifically tied to “down’s-syndrome,” and 2 students noted “dyslexia” as one of them.

While DSPS certainly does cater to students with needs such as these, it is not limited to severe mental conditions; it can be as minimal as an inability to fully retain and process information. DSPS also serves students with physical ailments that hinder their progress in college courses. FCC student Renee Martin utilizes the resources available to her through the DSPS center for physical purposes. “I have arthritis, so that makes it suck when I have to write a lot in class and walk upstairs  all over campus.”

Any student can qualify to be in the DSPS Program. While many of the students polled believed that to be a DSPS student meant having a severe mental condition or physical ailment, all of them agreed that it was a valuable resource available to any student that needs help succeeding in their college career. A student that qualifies as a candidate for the DSPS Program needs a “certificate from a qualified specialist”, and that can be obtained on campus by setting up an appointment  to undergo a specialized test. Perks of being a DSPS student entail but are not limited to priority registration and a variety of tools and resources catered to the needs of the individual student.

If you struggle in classes, and the tutorial center and office hours with your instructor aren’t enough to aid you in your success, set up an appointment for an assessment at DSPS. Be prepared for it to take about 2 hours, but your time will be well spent no matter the results. Qualifying can mean an abundance of extra help such as extended testing hours or a note-taker depending on your needs. Even if you don’t qualify, you can be pointed in the right direction as to where you can find additional help and find a better understanding of what you need as a student to succeed.

An anonymous participant from the open survey stated “You can be disabled in certain areas and have things that make you extraordinary in other areas. Just because you are in DSPS doesn’t make you stupid or anything like that, it just means you have difficulty in certain areas. I am in DSPS and I am an english tutor; you can have a disability and still work and do things like that.” Similarly, an additional anonymous student said “I don’t really tell people other than my teachers that I’m in DSPS because I get scared people are going to look at me differently than they would not knowing I have a learning disability, like there’s something wrong with me.”

Don’t be embarrassed to take the test or qualify; anyone can be a DSPS student and there is absolutely no shame in it. DSPS serves as beacon of success to those that not only need it, but those that want it. Be embarrassed that you failed a class when you could have had help, not because of a title that gets a bad, and misleading connotation with it.