NUDM runs second annual Accessibility Week, introduces new structural changes

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Daily file photo by Evan Robinson-Johnson

NUDM 2019. The organization will run a mainly virtual version of its annual Dance Marathon from March 3 to 6.

Maddy Rubin, Reporter

Northwestern University Dance Marathon created Accessibility Week last year to emphasize inclusion for their 30-hour dance charity event. This year, they plan to use the programming to expand accessibility, as well as limit Greek life-only fundraising teams amid campuswide debate over abolition.

Organized by NUDM’s Dancer Accessibility and Experience committee, each day of Accessibility Week will address financial, physical, mental and academic accessibility. They are also working to address diversity and inclusion within NUDM. The organization partnered with Student Enrichment Services, AccessibleNU and Multicultural Student Affairs to reach more of the NU community.

“We want to make sure the information reaches the right ears, because last year all (NUDM) did was post on Instagram twice, and the people who follow our Instagram already know this,” Weinberg senior and NUDM executive co-chair Ayesha Goswamy said.

Among the changes introduced this week is a new fundraising standard for dancers that Goswamy hopes will make the event more financially accessible.

Previously, NUDM recommended dancers raise $400 to participate. Now, there is no minimum fundraising recommendation for dancers. NUDM is also using Accessibility Week to recommend creative methods of fundraising to dancers, like dog walking or participating in NU psychology studies.

“Not only are we making it flexible fundraising, but we’re also going to make an active effort to push more resources to our dancers so that they have ways to fundraise… that aren’t reaching out to a network of a family that could financially support a dancer,” Cami Steppe, SESP senior and NUDM executive co-chair, said.

The DAE committee will also address NUDM’s affiliation with Greek life. Though NUDM was partially founded by the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, the committee will disallow fundraising teams exclusively consisting of Greek life members, starting this year.

Accessibility Week will end with the announcement of a series of initiatives to decrease reliance on large Greek life fundraising groups and encourage teams to include members beyond their chapters.

“Historically, NUDM has had a lot of Greek teams as some of the largest and highest fundraising teams,” Steppe said. “We’re creating more teams based off of different interest groups and student groups as well.”

Though last year’s Accessibility Week included discussion on diversity and inclusion, this is the first time NUDM has dedicated a day to decentralizing Greek teams in the tent, NUDM Dancer Accessibility and Experience committee co-chair and McCormick junior Daniel Birmingham said.

“One thing we’re really trying to push this year is not just having the conversation stop on Friday,” Birmingham said. “We need to take everything that we’re talking about during Accessibility Week and host programming throughout the entire year.”

After Accessibility Week, dancers will be able to register to fundraise for this year’s beneficiary, Compass to Care, an Illinois-based nonprofit that assists families of childhood cancer patients throughout treatment.

Though they can’t say for sure whether NUDM will happen in person, executive board members said they are committed to making their event accessible to all.

“We want to keep people’s safety and comfort levels (at the) top of our minds always, so whenever we can, we’ll have those things factored in,” Goswamy said. “The most important thing is that all of us are going to celebrate together, somehow.”

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Twitter: @maddyjrubin

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