Let office do its job

The NIU Office of Services for Students with Disabilities has learned a lesson this semester—you can’t please everyone.

Unfortunately, this is a lesson the office really didn’t need to learn.

A series in the Star described the complaints of an NIU student, Cary Supalo, who believes the office oversteps its boundaries by interfering too often in the lives of those who use the services. Supalo, a first-semester freshman who is blind, described the existence of what he believes is an “implied policy” requiring students to facilitate the office’s services in everyday activities.

The services didn’t take the recent heat alone, however. The Star has received numerous letters from other students with disabilities expressing their support and gratitude for the services. Because this support comes directly from those who experienced the services firsthand, the office must be doing something right.

Supalo has every right to make his complaints. He has every right to question the policies of the office and express concern for the quality of the services he receives. As a student, he should speak up and express his concerns. But he also has every right to refuse the services.

This was Linn Sorge’s response to the complaints. And Sorge, the coordinator of Services for Visually Impaired Persons, seems to know what she’s talking about.

Sorge says the goal of the office is to prepare students in becoming independent in every aspect of their college years. But she also says any student who does not want to use the services does not have to. This is what the whole issue comes down to.

If Supalo wants to be as independent as possible, if he wants to fend for himself to develop greater self-confidence, then that’s terrific. If he feels he can’t do this through using all of the services provided through the office then they just aren’t for him.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t for everyone else. As Sorge states, “One can be a ‘full-fledged human’ even if that person chooses to use something of a convenience.” Many students rely on the expert services and are still independent.

No one else seems to have a problem with the services. If the only complaint against the office is that it is doing its job, then the students who need the services are very lucky.