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Regents end discrimination complaint

By Ty Young
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
October 28, 1999
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The Arizona Board of Regents Tuesday submitted a resolution on behalf of the UA that should close a case involving a former student's accusation that the university has discriminated against mobility-impaired students, faculty and staff.

The complaint, filed on Dec. 14, 1998 by former University of Arizona student Judith Schieder, stated that the UA Motor Pool did not sufficiently meet the needs of disabled users of university vehicles.

In her letter to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, Schieder claimed that the motor pool did not comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This section prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability for programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

The complaint also alleged that the UA violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by a state or local government entity.

The Department of Education ruled that the UA violated both of these entities.

Eric Olson, an optical engineering senior who helped draw up the complaint letter, said the motor pool did not accommodate disabled students.

"The bottom line is that the motor pool did not provide vehicles that we can use," said Olson, who is confined to a wheelchair.

In the resolution, the UA agreed to provide two vehicles to the university's Center for Disability Related Resources or the motor pool with wheelchair lifts and space for several wheelchairs.

The university also agreed to provide a sufficient amount of vehicles with hand controls.

Olson said that while this issue has been a problem for disabled students for many years, the university did nothing to help.

"We ask and inquire about it, but they stubbornly refuse to get any," he said.

Mike Munsinger, director of UA Grounds Operations, said the motor pool has provided these services for disabled vehicle users for five months.

"We have hand controls for two of the sedans," he said. "We have had them since the beginning of the summer."

He also said there have been no inquiries about the cars.

"Nobody has used them yet," he said "We're still waiting."

Olson said he was upset that he was never informed about the changes, and that when he did inquire about them, he was turned away.

"It was insensitive, that's what it was," he said about the response he got from the motor pool.

Sean McMahon, a member of the Associated Students with Disabilities, said the university "must take a larger stand when this issues arise. The biggest thing is that they need to react a lot quicker."

Judy Gignac, a member of the board of regents, said the issue should be resolved with the UA's response.

"If the commitment has been made to change, then I think the problem is solved," she said.

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