Fourth-year global studies major Alexander Stern has filed a case against the UC regarding the employment policy of the Disabled Students’ Program, which allegedly bans disabled people from applying for several positions within the program.
The University of California responded to Stern’s litigation by asking the judge to strike down Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which explicitly states that public agencies cannot refuse to hire someone based solely on a handicap. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates 49.7 million Americans have a disability.
According to Stern, the University condones discrimination and prejudice by allowing a ban on hiring those with disabilities for certain jobs including exam proctors and notetakers.
“After months and months of attempting to persuade supervisors that such a ban was immoral and unlawful, UCSB still refused to change this policy so I filed the suit,” Stern said. “I believe job applicants should be considered on a case-by-case basis and not refused employment simply because they are disabled.”
The case, filed last quarter as Alexander Stern v. Regents of the University of California, is intended to guarantee all citizens equal opportunities, Stern said.
“This is a failure in leadership and a serious blow to equal rights,” Stern said. “If they succeed in getting a court to strike down this landmark civil rights law, millions of people with disabilities will be affected.”
Stern said the cause has elicited a positive response from the student body.
“Every single student I have spoken to about the issue is opposed to this policy,” Stern said. “I am currently working with student government leaders who also wish to voice their concerns through formal resolutions and open letters.”
According to UCSB’s Office of the Student Advocate website, downloadable job applications for the positions in question are blocked to students who have registered disabilities through the DSP.
“The Office of the Student Advocate is opposed to refusing jobs on the basis of disability and suspected disability,” the site says. “As such, we will continue our efforts to get this policy changed.”
Although Chancellor Henry Yang said he is unable to directly comment on any currently pending legal matters, he did say students, faculty and staff with disabilities constitute much of the university’s esteemed community.
“…[T]heir contributions to making UC Santa Barbara the best possible place to live, learn and work are valued and appreciated,” Yang said in an email. “We are strongly committed to providing equal opportunities for all of our students, faculty and staff.”
Director of DSP Gary White and Christine Griffin, the campus’ Deputy Americans with Disabilities Act compliance officer, declined to comment. Employee & Labor Relations Manager Farfalla Borah and Education & Learning Resources Assistant Debra Martin could not be reached as of press time.
According to Stern, the petition to lift the ban has received over 100 signatures.
“Posting a link to the petition on Facebook and sending an email to friends about it would be an enormous help,” Stern said. “Calling, writing or emailing UCSB Chancellor Yang or UC President Yudof and expressing your opposition to banning the disabled would also go a long way.”
The petition can be found at www.ucdiscrimination.com. More information is available from the Office of the Student Advocate at http://advocate.as.ucsb.edu/disabled_jobs.