Peer Partner Program

Program description & purpose:

In terms of accessible education, the experience between high school and college can be vastly different. Many incoming students have questions about what to expect from the process and how to navigate conversations with instructors. Students often also want to know more about things like social life, academic and support services, and strategies for coursework at Bates.

Peer Partners help to address these types of questions, often through sharing their personal experiences at Bates, and help students feel connected to campus before they arrive. They collaborate with Accessible Education and Student Support (AESS) to serve as an optional resource and connection point for incoming students who register with the office. Peer Partners are upperclass student volunteers who are also registered with AESS.

New students are encouraged to register with AESS before arriving to campus. Part of this process is a conversation (usually over the phone or virtual) with the Assistant Dean. If students are approved for accommodations, they receive additional information about how to register and use them closer to the beginning of the semester. As part of this process, all incoming students who register with AESS will receive information about the Peer Partner resource.

The purpose of this resource is to help students feel connected to campus before they arrive and become more familiar with AESS. Conversations between Peer Partners and first-year students should not be focused on disability and/or specific accommodation needs and there is no expectation to share any disability-related or personal information.

How connections are made:

  1. Assistant Dean provides the incoming student’s name and email to a Peer Partner.
  2. Peer Partner contacts the student by email, introducing themselves and offering to connect.
  3. Peer Partner waits for the student to respond.
  4. Assistant Dean doesn’t share any disability-related or other personal information with the student or Peer Partner at any point.

Peer Partners DO:

  • Serve as a friendly and welcoming point of contact.
  • Maintain students’ confidentiality at all times.
  • Share relevant information about their own experience at Bates.
  • Share information about strategies and resources on campus they’ve found helpful.
  • Share tips regarding communication with instructors.
  • Encourage students to talk with the Assistant Dean about any significant concerns or issues.

Peer Partners DO NOT:

  • Share a student’s disability and/or personal information with anyone else.
  • Ask questions about a student’s disability when they have not disclosed this information first.
  • Make recommendations for or attempt to answer questions about specific accommodations. In this instance, students will be encouraged to talk with the Assistant Dean.

Peer Partners are responsible for:

  • Contacting students within one week (7 days) of receiving a referral from the Assistant Dean.
  • Representing AESS in a professional and appropriate way.
  • Being available to check-in with the Assistant Dean periodically about how things are going.
  • Letting the Assistant Dean know if any issues or questions arise.

Helpful information Peer Partners are encouraged to share:

  • AESS will hold two optional orientation sessions for new students during Orientation week on Wednesday, August 29th. The sessions will be held opposite the two Green Dot trainings so that every student will be able to attend if they want to. Students will receive details closer to Orientation week. Students who attend will have the opportunity to:
    • Register their accommodations through the AIM portal on-the-spot
    • Learn how to schedule an exam in AIM (if applicable)
    • Meet AESS staff, including two upperclass student Accessibility Advisors
    • Ask questions
  • New students are encouraged to schedule a 15-minute follow-up meeting with an AESS staff member during the first two weeks of classes. This will be an opportunity to become familiar with the office location and ask any questions.
  • New students will receive information via email closer to the start of the semester regarding next steps for accommodations and resources (optional orientation session, etc). It’s really important to check your Bates email regularly!
  • New students should reach out to the Assistant Dean directly regarding any questions/concerns about accommodations or available services.

Thank you

This program was initiated by feedback from upperclass students who felt having a peer to connect with prior to arriving on campus would have been helpful. We really appreciate your interest in participating! As we are piloting this for the first time in summer 2018, we would also appreciate ideas and feedback for future planning.


Accessible Education and Student Support

Ladd Library, room G35

Phone: (207)786-6222