Thursday, July 5, 2012

Open Letter to the John's Hopkins School of Public Health

Saving lives...but penalizing your own students for being ill?
Dear JHSPH Administrators,
  I am a new Masters of Public Health student in the class of 2013. I have a documented disability (systemic lupus) that is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). I have been working with the JHSPH's Office of Disability Support Services, who have been extremely helpful. However, it appears that John's Hopkins policy, which Support Services is not responsible for, is in clear violation of the ADA.


  Under the ADA, institutions are forbidden from "not making reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant..." However, I have just been told that, in order to park in a garage close to the Bloomberg School of Public Health, I will be required to pay the usual $120 parking fee each month. I have no alternative but to park in this garage, as I am so photosensitive (due to lupus) that walking any distance in the sun to get to my car makes me extremely ill. Moreover, I unable to use public transportation due to the fact that I am extremely immunocompromised due to the immunosuppressant medications I take to stay alive. (I have been explicitly advised against using public transportation by my physician). So, in effect, I am being charged $120/month for having lupus. This does not seem reasonable, as I am a student, and having to pay an extra $1320 over the course of my program at John's Hopkins constitutes an undue financial hardship.


  This situation is clearly both illegal and morally wrong. As the #1 School of Public Health in the world, it seems absurd that your own policies discriminate against disabled students. Instead of encouraging such students to use our experiences as disabled individuals to improve public policy, you are penalizing us for attending your institution. This is unacceptable, and needs to change.


Respectfully yours,
Dr. Sam Hyde, M.S., PhD

7 comments:

  1. I hope this matter is resolved quickly. It is totally illegal what they are doing. I am an online student with University of Phoenix and was recently hospitalized due to bronchitis as a result of being immnocompromised due to SLE. When I contacted my teachers about it, I was told by one teacher that because I was able to get online via my laptop and the hospital's network that I would not get any extensions for any assignments.

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  2. Sam, good luck with this. I find most universities are not sensitive to the challenges that so many face. I, for one, have a "handicap" parking placard at the University of Vermont Given lot. (I'm sure you are familiar with what I am talking about.) The university is abiding by the rules that were established in 1983. Often, there is no handicap parking available to me as all the spaces are taken. I've complained and complained to no avail as they have the required # handicap spaces for the total number of spaces. Even their swimming pool does not have hand rails to pull oneself out of the pool which means I am unable to use it.

    An insitution as well-known as John Hopkins surely should be more sensitive to your needs. Sam, I think there is a law against charging for handicap parking. I'll see if I can find it and let you know.

    Joan (your mom's friend :>) )

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    1. I work at a University and disabled parking permits are more expensive. For me it isn't a big issue because the parking lot I use (which I pay for) is close enough to the building I work in. But I agree it is not right to charge more money for disabled parking permit. I haven't heard of any complaints though.

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    1. In answer your to your original question, I don't mind being quoted as long as it is clear that you are quoting from me, and there is a link to my original post.

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  4. You are not asking them to change their buildings. You are not asking them to knock down stone walls to widen doorways or build ramps to awkward buildings. You are just asking for handicapped parking to exist where you need it. The parking already exists, they just want to charge you for it or give it to someone else who can pay more. Your letter was, if anything, too nice. Keep us posted. I'm trying to think if any of the lawyers I know happen to know do ADA.

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