The following was a letter to the editor published in the Ashland Daily Tidings 0n January 10th, 2011.
To SOU President Mary Cullinan:
We read with interest about the decision of Southern Oregon University to force a young student with Down syndrome to drop a ceramics class due to her purported intellectual inability to engage with the academic material. The actions of your university have attracted attention across the country and internationally. How much better would it have been to highlight the achievements of the student on your campus and demonstrate that all students canlearn from each other? Imagine your university, under your leadership, as a model for educational opportunities for people with disabilities.
Our son with Down syndrome has many friends, both in special education and regular education classes. So often we have been told by the families of his peers that their own children are learning incredible life lessons from their interactions with our son. The exposure of our son to academic opportunities in many different settings means so much to him socially, academically, and therapeutically.
Though I will never meet them, I am proud of the other students on your campus for demonstrating and expressing their outrage at the action taken by the university.
I can point to countless art shows and exhibits that include art created by people with disabilities.
Our own son had one of his pieces of art shown at a city-wide exhibit for all students! Let us all hope that our world will find a place for the talents of everyone.
Best wishes to you for insight in future opportunities for inclusion and support of people with disabilities. May you learn through your own life lessons.