Professor Erevelles promotes campus social justice

“There are many attributes of Dr. Erevelles that make her both unique as a professor and central to the teacher education process,” said Paul Landry, a doctoral candidate in the College of Education.

Erevelles teaches a variety of courses at the University, including Multicultural Education, Social Cultural Studies, Critical Race Theory and her favorite, Education and Politics of the Body. She joined the University in 2001 after teaching for three years at Auburn.

She received her undergraduate degree in mathematics from her home country of India.

“India didn’t have any type of degree in education,” she said.

After moving to the U.S., she earned her master’s and doctorate degree in special education at Syracuse University.

“Going to school as an outsider, I could see segregation happening in schools,” Erevelles said.

Erevelles said she tries to teach her students that disability identity is not very different from race, class and gender. She said she wants to talk about disability as a civil rights issue as opposed to a medical issue.

“Whenever students want support on issues with social justice, I am there to advise them,” she said. “I am a pain in the butt for a lot of people on campus.”

Erevelles said she is trying to make sure campus is accessible for all students with disabilities. She recently influenced the parking staff to increase parking spaces near Graves Hall.

Most buildings on campus have disability access, but it is sometimes located at the rear entrances. This is the type of issue that Erevelles said she tries to address for students 
with disabilities.

“What does it mean to say ‘welcome’ to students on campus by telling them to come to the back door?” she said.

Erevelles does not just leave her work on campus. She is involved with local school systems and other universities. On campus, she is involved with a group called Crimson Access, a disability rights group. She is active in the system at her daughter’s school.

“Education can be a source of amazing freedom, but can always become a great source of 
oppression,” she said.

Jean Swindle, president of the Graduate Student Association and teaching assistant in the department of educational leadership, policy and technology studies, said her experience in Erevelles’ course inspired her interest in social justice issues.

“I have always believed myself a conscientious member of citizenry, however, I have been changed and compelled to react, research, and recommit to service to the benefit of all members of society because of Dr. E’s influence in my academic and personal development,” she said.

Swindle said Erevelles’ teachings influenced her life in more ways than just her education.

“We often claim to ‘acquire’ KSAs (knowledge, skills and abilities) in college; I am grateful that my interaction with Dr. E has resulted in much more – a transformation in me for the better,” she said.

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