|Saving lives...but penalizing your own students for being ill?|
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.
Dr. Sam Hyde, M.S., PhD