University Council to address concerns from students with disabilities

By Kelly Bauer

During Wednesday’s University Council meeting, Greg Long said students with disabilities have come to him with troubling news.

Long, NIU Chair of the Presidential Commission on Persons with Disabilities, reported that professors have publicly disclosed their students’ disabilities on several occasions at NIU. Long said he sought out 10 students with disabilities and asked if they had experienced anything similar.

“Each and every student reported faculty who questioned their disability and/or right to an accommodation, publicly,” Long stated during his report. “Disability disclosure is unprofessional, uncivil and often stigmatizing. It may well create a hostile environment. In most cases, it is also illegal.”

A motion to refer the matter to a committee to come back with potential action items was unanimously passed.

University Council also discussed proposed changes to the Academic Misconduct Policy and Grade Appeal Procedure. It was decided that the recommended changes would be brought back to committee to clarify several items.

Long suggested the committee also make the policy more readable so students can understand it.

Earl Hansen, NIU Representative for the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), reported that the IBHE Faculty Advisory Council sent a letter in support of House Bill 5671 to Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Hinckley. HB 5671 would establish a pilot program in 2013 to set aside $50 million in Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant funds to be used in a second round of MAP grants. The funds would be distributed to public community college students and independent college students attending other institutions.

Hansen said he understood there is no MAP money left for next fall.

University Council also voted to support the University Affairs Committee’s conclusion that the position of ombudsman should be continued. Current Ombudsman Tim Griffin is retiring.