This paper explores methods for building relevant, accessible academic services in the context of a liberal arts college with a growing population of students with psychological disabilities. This work is situated in a learning commons, where academic-support programs, including accessibility services and library services, work collaboratively with a shared goal of getting students to access support earlier and more often in their college careers. The college is home to many students who identify as holding marginalized identities, including those who are LGBTQ+, disabled, students of color, and/or international students, and are thus particularly susceptible to discrimination (Roberts et al. 2010; Seng et al. 2012; Ellis, n.d.; Harrell 2017; Coulter and Rankin 2017; Polaris, n.d.; Proctor, Semega, and Kollar 2016). In consultations with staff, students often name past academic experience as an underlying cause for academic struggle. Exploring this connection, staff observed that histories of trauma and marginalization can make it difficult for students to trust staff and have positive academic experiences. Through action research, the authors developed methods to better support students, including those with histories of trauma. The authors share their methods and suggestions to support readers interested in bringing this work into their communities.


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pp. 526-549
Launched on MUSE
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