How LMU Forgets People With Disabilities During Finals Week And Beyond | Social justice

Finals week can be a stressful time as teachers pile up essays and exams and time seems to have passed. For students like me who are enrolled in Disability Support Services (DSS), finals week is particularly difficult. Even with DSS legal accommodations, students are obligated to confront each professor to ensure that their accommodations are respected. Additionally, DSS accommodations are often only granted for exams, which hurts students with disabilities whose finals consist of papers, presentations, and projects.

Accommodations for students with disabilities may include many different things such as extra time for exams and homework, free breaks, priority registration, direct writing on tests, tests in a separate room, and use of a calculator. However, since I started at LMU, the DSS seems to give the majority of the responsibility to students with disabilities to fight for their own accommodations.

Speaking of personal experience, the process of using the accommodation is not as straightforward as that shown on the DSS information page on LMU website. The website states that students should use the DSS Online Services website to request the courses for which accommodations are desired. From there, DSS will send an email to the student’s faculty with the approved accommodations. The website also says that students should meet with their faculty to discuss their accommodations.

What is not written here is that DSS relies on the students to do all the heavy lifting themselves. Although DSS emailed all of my teachers, they never checked in with me to make sure the accommodations were applied. Students must constantly approach their teachers to have their accommodations genuinely respected, which means whenever there is a test, project, or essay where accommodations are needed.

This process inherently puts a lot of stress on the students. Samantha Siegel, a first year political science student, explained a major problem she faced when trying to use her accommodations: “Some of my teachers just don’t allow me to use them. I don’t know if it’s because they forget or if they think I don’t need it, but it’s incredibly frustrating. I think a big part of this is that my grades show that I am capable of being successful, and therefore I don’t need to; however, this is only because the notes do not show all the overtime that I am putting into my job. “

It is essential that the DSS begin to educate faculty on how to approach students and accept accommodations. The University should force professors to meet this standard in order to better include students with disabilities in LMU classrooms.

Not only are accommodations difficult to use, but for finals it often seems like accommodations aren’t even possible, especially with virtual learning. In the finals, the accommodations for the tests are quite simple and straightforward: you contact your teacher again and ask them to give you your extra time and other accommodations. However, because the DSS will not be monitoring exams due to COVID-19, students no longer benefit from this smaller, quieter space. Plus, since you’ve been online, stop-the-clock pauses are almost non-existent.

The real problem arises when finals exist in the form of projects, essays and presentations. Due to the pandemic, many professors are taking tests at these more important assignments. For example, last semester I had six long articles but not a single test. While this was something I was able to do throughout the night and the overwork, my accommodations just couldn’t be implemented. Even after reaching out to some very understanding and respectful professors, the best they could accommodate me was to allow me to hand in work this past Friday due to the University’s grading policy.

To give a better understanding of the problem here, I should note that I am getting double the time on assignments to address my four different learning disabilities. This means that if a person has one hour for one test, I should have two. In theory, the same concept should apply to trials and projects. Lucky for me, I never needed to ask for all of my extra time on big assignments, but instead needed a few extra days.

Even if I don’t use all of my allotted extra time, it should still be offered; but unfortunately, during the week of the finals, the University’s grading policy does not allow a few extra days for students with disabilities to complete their work. Professors must have submitted final grades to the Registrar by the third working day after exam week. After this deadline, if a grade is not submitted, the professor must officially change the student’s grade, which is complicated process which requires the approval of the department head and the dean of students.

Overall, the process in place to assist students with disabilities in virtual learning finals is very inefficient. Help from the DSS included a small email on April 23 to address the week of the finals, reminding students that the DSS will not be monitoring exams and that students should contact their professors individually to arrange use of the premises. Additionally, a document has been attached on how to talk with a teacher; however, these instructions for adaptations only apply to testing, and DSS seems to forget that so many final tests have been replaced by articles, presentations or projects to accommodate virtual learning.

To resolve issues that arise in finals, LMU must change its scoring policy to allow students with disabilities to use the full extent of their legal accommodations. LMU must either allow students with disabilities to work after the last day of finals week or require faculty to produce finals in which all disabled facilities can be used.

People with disabilities have long been forgotten and neglected. LMU is a university that prides itself on championing social justice. He should not leave his disabled students to fend for themselves. It’s time for LMU and DSS to take up the burden of students with disabilities and help us navigate the twists and turns of college. Ultimately, students with disabilities like me should be recognized and helped, not forgotten and forced to do everything on our own.

That’s the opinion of Jordan Fray, a freshman political science student from Chicago, Illinois. Email your comments to [email protected] Follow and tweet comments for @LALoyolan on Twitter, and I like the Loyolan on Facebook.

About John McTaggart

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