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SEN-14-18 An Additional Call for UT Administrative Action in Support of the UT FUTURE Program Receiving Services from SDS

BILL #: SEN-14-18

TITLE: An Additional Call for UT Administrative Action in Support of the UT FUTURE Program Receiving Services from SDS

SPONSOR: Annelise Brueher, Haslam College of Business

Blaine Ziegler, College of Arts and Sciences

DATE: November 6, 2018

Whereas, the Undergraduate Student Senate of 2017-2018 unanimously passed a bill which called for the following action: “Be it hereby resolved, that the Student Disability Services office will provide, with equal effort and execution to all other students not enrolled in the FUTURE Program, services that students in the FUTURE Program and the FUTURE Program staff reasonably request.”

Whereas, following the passage of this legislation, its sponsor engaged in conversations with UT Administration and facilitated discussions between UT Administration, the UT FUTURE Program, and the Student Disability Services office,

Whereas, progress on this issue has been especially slow-moving,

Whereas, questions have been presented which undermine the status of “student” of students in the FUTURE Program, question the payment of students’ in FUTURE tuition and fees to the University, and the request and qualification for these services more generally,

Whereas, questions have been met with fact-based answers, legal research and advice, and extreme student and parent concern,

Whereas, the non-degree seeking status of students in FUTURE has been used to question their status as a student in a way that would qualify them for various University-provided services, the definition of “student” by multiple UT campuses and UTK Housing documents includes non-degree seeking students in their definitions of “student”, which leads one to reasonably believe that under these criteria, students in FUTURE would not be disqualified from “student” status due to their non-degree seeking status, in the eyes of the University,

Whereas, “student” status has been questioned by admissions process not being exactly the same to the University’s typical admissions process that students in FUTURE complete,

Whereas, there are other groups of students who are also non-degree seeking, and admitted differently than typical, immediately degree-seeking students, like those in the UT Bridge Program, who still receive services from SDS,

Whereas, this discrepancy indicates a treatment of like criteria differently, where the only difference is the presence of the disability status of individuals when they apply for services,

Whereas, the status of students in FUTURE is affirmed by the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which gave students with IDD the ability to access higher education, in the way that HEOA uses “student” language,

Whereas, the status of students in FUTURE is affirmed by documents that determine best practices and legal intent of the higher education movement for students with IDD,

Whereas, the status of students in FUTURE is also irrelevant to their qualification for SDS under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title II, the most sweeping disability protection legislation in the United States of America,

Whereas, multiple legal opinions have been given to the protection and qualification of students in FUTURE, regardless of status in the eyes of the University, to receive SDS,

Whereas, students in and not in FUTURE pay the same University of Tennessee, Knoxville tuition and fees, with students in FUTURE paying an additional $5,000.00/year, and UTK receiving 50% of tuition and 100% of student fees,

Whereas, students in the FUTURE program do not want any services above and beyond what SDS would typically provide for other students,

Whereas, there are 17 students in the FUTURE Program and that number is extremely unlikely to increase above 20 in the foreseeable future, thus indicating the lack of burden placed on SDS by providing these services,

Whereas, not only could SDS and the University be in violation of the ADA, but it is also discriminatory to exclude a group of students from receiving services that they are qualified for on the sole basis of their membership in the FUTURE Program, which is predicated on their having an intellectual or developmental disability,

Be it hereby resolved, that the University of Tennessee, Knoxville respond swiftly and appropriately to the students’ of the FUTURE Program requests to receive services from SDS,

Be it further resolved, that the University of Tennessee, Knoxville recognize the value and status of students in the FUTURE Program with respect and dignity.