Not ‘only’ solution

I would like to submit some thoughts and clarification in reference to Mr. Shur’s editorial of Oct. 7. I want to assure the Star’s readers that though Mr. Shur’s article implied it, NO ONE from my office notified the Star of these concerns.

I did not indicate that the “end-all or only” solution to my concerns for the commission would be to replace an able-bodied faculty-staff member with a disabled member. One of my suggestions was to increase the size of the membership in order to include more faculty-staff appointees with disabilities.

“Only” is a word that I use very carefully. Persons who know me realize that I never would have thought that disabled persons were the “only” ones to care about disabilities. I simply suggest that more spokespersons from that group be given a chance to participate in the commission on disabilities.

When the commission’s bylaws were formed, Mr. Shur suggested that we model our commission after the two others already established on campus.

The Women’s Commission’s membership is comprised of a vast majority of women. (Last year there were no male members, this year there is one.) The Commission on Minorities is comprised entirely of persons within minority groups.

Because many able-bodied persons have professional and personal commitments to persons with disabilities it was decided that the commission on disabilities would be more effective if able-bodied and disabled persons were within its membership.

I became very concerned, however, when this fall one out of five new faculty/staff appointments was given to a person with a disability. Section III of the commission’s bylaws addresses membership.

My suggestion that effort should be made toward providing a more equal faculty/staff representation from both able-bodied and disabled persons does not appear as reverse discrimination. Actually, it seems more like the philosophy of “reasonable accommodation” on such a commission. Perhaps, this section of the bylaws needs to be reconsidered.

I also agree with Mr. Shur that no one has the “right” to serve on an advisory board. Perhaps a better word, in this case, would be “opportunity.” Since the entire structure of services for persons with disabilities is going to be assessed by the commission, I was very distressed to find that one of the three individuals who provides direct day-to-day, minute-to-minute services to such persons was no longer included on the commission.

My office is very much in favor of a wide variety of persons providing input and ideas toward the restructuring of service needs. However, it seems quite reasonable and efficient that the three day-to-day direct service providers be sought as a core part of that group in order to provide it with information and a wide range of experiences with needs, solutions tried, ideas gathered, etc.

Hidden disabilities can add much extra coping and struggle to those who must live with them. The commission (along with offices and individuals already committed to promote better understanding of all persons with disabilities) will, as Mr. Shur stated, try to combat misconceptions concerning these disabilities. The visible disabilities or needs are more often addressed precisely because they are noticed.

Lastly, Gary Gresholdt and I have worked together for several years, and have, from time to time, had differing opinions. We apparently do once again concerning the faculty/staff representation of disabled persons on the commission.

The difference of opinion, however, does not negate the fact that both Sue and I feel that Gary Gresholdt is doing an extremely skillful job at chairing the commission. I would, therefore, like to assure Mr. Shur that the Star editorial was not echoing our sentiments in this matter.

Linn Sorge

Team Coordinator

Services for Students with Disabilities