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Student with disabilities wins fight to live in college dorm

December 31st, 2009

Oakland University violated federal law by excluding him, judge rules

From the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Oakland [MI] Press:

A federal judge has ruled that Michigan’s Oakland University has violated the federal Rehabilitation Act by failing to allow a student with a cognitive impairment to live in a campus dorm. An Oakland spokesman said the university will appeal the ruling, but will allow the young man to live on campus during the process.

U.S. District Judge Patrick J. Duggan ordered Oakland to make a room available to 25-year-old Micah Fialka-Feldman, who has been taking classes in the school’s OPTIONS program. Fialka-Feldman pays a fee equal to full tuition but doesn’t earn grades in the program, which is designed for students with cognitive disabilities who would not otherwise be able to meet the university’s admissions requirements.

The university has maintained that Fialka-Feldman, who takes buses two hours a day to get to class from his parents’ home, is not eligible for a dorm room because he’s not enrolled in a degree-granting program.

Duggan said the university’s assumption that the young man would be unable to follow housing rules “appears to be grounded on prejudice, stereotypes and/or unfounded fear.”

Earlier posts here.

(Detroit News photo)

One Response to “Student with disabilities wins fight to live in college dorm”

  1. Pamela Wilson Says:

    I have been following this story since October 2008 – and remember that Mr. Fialka-Feldman had been promised a spot in the dorm, paid a deposit, and then collected about a thousand signatures from students saying he should have the right to live in the dorm after the university withdrew its approval. We should all see the DVD that I found through a link here, that features his story –
    Through the Same Door: Inclusion Includes College
    http://www.throughthesamedoor.com/

    My son with Down syndrome accomplished so much in his college program (Venture, at Bellevue Community College, now Bellevue College) – but even I underestimated his potential when he first enrolled, and he has taught me not to do that throughout his life, given the opportunities he needed to reach the goals he set for himself. It does seem right that Micah Fialka-Feldman was promised the opportunity and all wrong that the university reversed its original promise and plans to appeal Judge Duggan’s recent decision.

    I remember that living in campus housing at schools where it was available was one of the discussions going on back then. Looks like 2010 is going to be a big step forward for Oakland University in Detroit and a giant leap for mankind.

    We are wishing all the best for Micah in 2010. Looks like it could be a great decade coming along. And it’s about time.

    Ordinary life, be my rock in times of trouble.

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