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Students and faculty lead demonstration with KU Activists

By: Carin Holmes
News Editor

KU Activists along with KU students and faculty led a demonstration on Oct. 19. They were protesting what they say is a lack of care for disabled individuals on KU’s campus.

“What really spurred this demonstration was (Professor) Oross being denied accommodations,” said Sam Marencik, a junior who is a member of KU Activists. She said that after Professor Oross came forward saying that he was denied accommodations, many others began coming forward stating they faced similar challenges. 

“The biggest thing for me was seeing students and faculty standing up together for something,” said Paul Berlet, who is also a member of KU Activists. 

KU Activists said it is unacceptable that disabled students as well as faculty members were denied their requests to complete their semester fully online.

Students and faculty gather at KU Activists demonstration
Photo Credit: Vincent Lattanzi

The group also said that KU administration has offered disabled students the option to transfer to another school if they did not like the in-person instruction.

“I feel that KU does not want me to attend here anymore,” said Berlet, who is also a disabled student at KU.

KU Activists said that their requests to meet with KU administration have been denied, and they have been directed to look at the COVID-19 protocols on the KU website instead.

“While it would be challenging to give a response that would cover the particulars of each scenario (nor would we do that due to individual privacy laws), KU has exceptional disability services. We are noted for our many accommodations for students who have special needs,” said Matt Santos, vice president of university relations and athletics, in a response to the allegations of KU Activists. 

He continued to say that KU promised students who signed up for in-person classes that their classes would not convert to an online format, and KU does not plan to break this promise. 

“For students who wanted online classes, we had many opportunities for them to do so. If a particular class was not available, they certainly could take the class from an online university or program at another university and transfer it to KU.”

Santos said that President Hawkinson and the administration have been accessible, and students have been represented on the Emergency Management Team since it began in June 2020. He also said that President Hawkinson regularly meets with student leaders on issues affecting the community.