Neurodivergent Movement Comes to Marshall Through Neurodivergency Alliance

Bex Law, Student Reporter

In effort to create a more inclusive and informed campus, the neurodivergency alliance is forming with a kickoff event on Feb. 27 for neurodivergent people and their allies.

“When campus is more sensory friendly and ‘neuro-inclusive,’ it’s a better campus for everybody,” said Dr. Jill Underhill, interim assistant director at the Center for Teaching & Learning. Though Underhill and several other faculty members are leading the charge, she hopes it will become a student led coalition.

A main goal for Underhill is to empower students, faculty and staff to advocate for themselves and reduce stigma around neurodivergence. “I want students to be able to tell faculty, ‘This is what I need,’ not only in reference to formal accommodations, but saying, ‘This is how I learn,’” Underhill said. “I want faculty and staff to advocate for themselves as well to create a better workspace.”

Underhill said there are multiple research studies saying autistic students will be the largest group of students to enter higher education in this decade. “Campus has to address serving and supporting autistic students,” Underhill said.

The kickoff event will feature stations to learn about different kinds of neurodivergence such as autism, ADHD, bi-polar disorder and more. Campus partners such as the counseling center will be present along with student ambassadors. 

With the help of the Academic Affairs Quality Initiative for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Underhill said this event and future meetings of the alliance should be welcoming to all community members whether they are neurodivergent or allies. 

All meetings will have a virtual option as well as name tags to indicate if a person is open to being spoken to or touched. Underhill hopes for monthly meetings of the alliance for educational purposes as well as fun.

“We have a lot of fidgets and squishies to give out at the kickoff event,” Underhill said. “We want to see if people maybe want to get together to play Dungeons and Dragons, maybe start a book club, you know; it’s all about what the members want out of this group.”