Friday, November 26, 2010

Post Thanksgiving Thoughts and More...

Yesterday we took a break and spent some much needed down time with friends reflecting on what an amazing community and network of family, neighbors and friends we are SO FORTUNATE to have! The outpouring of concern and support from people we know,
and those we don't, has truly been amazing. We are so thankful for each and every one of YOU!

At the time of this post, there are now over 700 signatures on the epetition. I would encourage the community, SOU administration, students and faculty to read through these signatures and comments. They are coming from a whole host of people - current ceramics classmates, past AHS classmates, leaders in the field of education, administrators, teachers, disability rights advocates - all advocating that Eliza be allowed to return to class... and why not? According to those with on the ground experience and who have had Eliza in classes in the past, Eliza's method of accommodation has for years allowed her to be successful in general education setting without disrupting or altering the learning environment for anyone. Her being in the ceramics class with her needed accommodation WAS successful and now, based on a narrow minded view and unfounded worry of a few SOU administrators and their assessment of who should be entitled to benefit from University classes, there is ill will toward the University that otherwise has been open and supportive toward individuals with disabilities. We ask... why is SOU remaining so vested - against community opinion - in unfairly drawing the line here for students, like Eliza, who simply have an insatiable curiosity to learn?

Below is a letter to the editor in the November 24th Mail Tribune. We are most appreciative of the outpouring of community support for Eliza and her pursuit of her education. It is difficult to imagine why an institute of higher learning would be wishing to portray itself as anything less than welcoming of all students who are as enthusiastic and dedicated to improving their education as Eliza is. Surely the claims of being a University that welcomes diversity and touts itself as being an inclusive campus might see that welcoming Eliza would come with all kinds of benefits. We once again ask SOU to PLEASE find a way to reverse the negative view of the University that has been caused by the misguided judgment of a select few administrators and allow Eliza to return to her final two classes on Nov. 29 and Dec 1, however that can be arranged - as a visitor, guest or student - to honor her dream. Then we propose to set up a commission/task force that includes community members, SOU students, faculty, administrators, elected officials and other interested parties to move forward to include all students who wish to seek a higher education experience at Southern Oregon University by simply following the current rules of enrollment, accepting needed accommodations and modeling off of other successful programs currently in use around the Country.

Letter to the Editor - Mail Tribune Nov. 24th, 2010

SOU should accommodate Eliza

1 comment:

  1. Some thoughts:

    "The non-admit student policy was not designed or intended to provide an avenue for participation to individuals who are not otherwise qualified for admission to SO." So what WAS it designed for? They don't give grades do they? The students who use it aren't admitted presumably, otherwise it wouldn't be a "non-admit" program. So make them support the existence of the program.

    What are they claiming to be "fundamental alterations" in the course? What are they claiming to "lower essential requirements"? They must support these claims of what is essential and why pedagogically. They cannot simply claim a ceramics class is what they say it is.

    The provision of an "educational assistant" relative to its appropriateness at a higher education level depends mostly on what the assistant is doing. The person in question has also been described as a "personal assistant." A personal assistant, provided the service is paid for by the student, is a recognized accommodation. The university just has no obligation to pay for the service.

    Your fellow students support you, and your university is in total disregard of the spirit of the ADA, which is to ACCOMMODATE. Please file an Office of Civil Rights complaint with the Department of Education. They will not only turn your uni upside down to investigate your complaint, but will make them support every aspect of their decision. If it is like how it is in my regional accreditation board, the school will be forced to report they had a civil rights complaint, and will probably be under continued scrutiny by the OCR.

    Since the university grievance procedure didn't produce positive results, and they said a number of things they neither explained nor supported, the Feds are the next best step.

    The OCR and courts usually defer to the university on academic requirements, but if you ask specifically, they'll be forced to put their reasonings in writing, and the OCR brooks no vague excuses.