By Todd Hardy
Arizona Daily Wildcat September 10, 1996
Members of the campus group that represents students with disabilities are fighting the recent appointment of the organization's director.
Mindy McCollum, Associated Students vice president of programs and services, selected Ann Fowler, psychology sophomore, as the new director of the Association of Students with Disabilities.
However, the appointment was challenged yesterday when ASD Assistant Director John Olson and former ASD Director Brian McCracken met with McCollum to discuss their objections to the appointment.
Although McCollum did not allow the Daily Wildcat to attend the meeting, Olson said he disapproves of the appointment because McCollum ignored ASD recommendations and chose a candidate who had no previous experience with the organization.
Olson said ASD strongly recommended that Eric Olson, an optical engineering sophomore, be appointed director.
McCracken explained that the director of ASD is a volunteer who works as a liaison to ASUA and supervises all operations within the organization. The input of all ASD members is considered in the decision-making process, he said.
"Eric is a natural leader, who was very active in the organization last year," he said. "In the past, our director has always been an experienced leader who knows all of our members."
Fowler, who lost the use of her legs last year in an automobile accident, has never been a member of ASD.
McCollum said she appointed Fowler because, as a recently disabled student, she would be more sensitive to the difficulties that disabled students come up against on campus.
"Someone who has been disabled for 10 or 20 years may not be as sensitive to these issues," she said.
ASUA bylaws state that all program and service directors should be selected following the general election in the spring. Eric Olson assumed the leadership role for ASD during the summer because a director had not yet been appointed.
Eric Olson said he believes he was not selected because McCollum disagreed with the way he assumed ASD leadership without her approval.
"I got into this because they (ASD) said they needed me and wanted me to represent them," he said. "The disabled students are not going to get the representation they deserve because Mindy McCollum has a personal problem with me."
McCollum denied any personal conflict with Eric Olson and said she selected Fowler because she was the best candidate for the position.
"The ASD director is a watchdog for disabled students, and I think Ann Fowler will be a great watchdog," she said.
McCracken said he is concerned with Fowler's appointment because she is virtually unknown to the group's members.
"Our objection to Fowler is not personal," he said. "We simply don't know her, and we need to feel comfortable relating to our director."
"Fowler should be an active ASD member and get to know the organization before she takes on a leadership role," McCracken said. "She will probably be a great candidate for director in the future."
Fowler could not be reached for comment.
McCracken said he hopes McCollum will reconsider the appointment and open up the position for other, more qualified applicants.
However, McCollum said she is standing by her appointment.
The Undergraduate Senate is expected to vote on Wednesday whether to approve Fowler as ASD director. A simple majority is necessary for approval, according to ASUA's constitution.