Rights, Responsibilities, and Grievance

Macalester College makes reasonable effort to provide qualified students with disabilities equal access to all the courses, services, programs, job activities and facilities available through the college.

Students have the following rights:

  1. Access to courses, programs, services and facilities offered through the college
  2. Appropriate and reasonable academic accommodations provided in a timely manner, determined on an individual, as-needed basis.
  3. Confidentiality of records and communication except where disclosure is necessary to arrange accommodations, required by law, or authorized by the student.
  4. Fair evaluation of academic achievement
  5. The right to appeal a decision concerning academic accommodations according to the college's grievance procedures

Student Responsibilities

Every qualified student with a documented disability has the responsibility to:

  1. Meet and uphold the college's qualifications and standards as outlined in the Student Handbook and college catalog.
  2. Contact the Assistant Dean of Students to identify as a student with a disability and arrange for appropriate academic accommodations in a timely manner. Students who need accommodations that take an extensive amount of time to prepare, such as alternate format texts, sign language interpreters, or computer aided real time translation are urged to contact the Assistant Dean of Students as soon as courses for the following semester are confirmed.
  3. Inform professors at the beginning of each semester about the need for any necessary and reasonable academic accommodations. The student may also want to discuss how his or her performance in classes might be affected by his or her disability.
  4. Provide the Assistant Dean of Students with appropriate documentation from a qualified professional, which verifies the diagnosis of the disability, explains how the disability limits participation and, accordingly, the need for specific accommodations.
  5. Follow specific procedural guidelines set forth by the Assistant Dean of Students for obtaining and arranging reasonable and appropriate academic accommodations, (e.g. scheduling exams, requesting assistance, arranging accommodations with professors, etc).

College Rights

Macalester College has the right to:

  1. Identify and establish essential functions, abilities, skills, knowledge, and standards for courses, programs, services, and facilities and to evaluate and determine reasonable accommodations on this basis
  2. Request current and appropriate documentation from a qualified professional to verify the need for reasonable academic accommodations.
  3. Consult with students in making the final determination regarding the selection of effective, appropriate and reasonable academic accommodations. The college reserves the right to make the final decision regarding which accommodations will be provided.
  4. Deny a request for accommodations if the documentation does not identify a valid disability, fail to verify the need for the requested accommodations, or if the documentation or request for accommodations are not provided in a timely manner.

The College may also refuse to provide any accommodation that is inappropriate or unreasonable, including any that:

  • Pose a threat to the health and safety of others
  • Constitute a substantial change or alternation to an essential requirement of a course or program
  • Pose undue financial or administrative burden on the college

College Responsibilities

Macalester College has the responsibility to:

  1. Maintain and uphold the academic standards and requirements set forth by the college.
  2. Provide information regarding university policies and procedures to students with disabilities and assure availability in accessible formats upon request.
  3. Evaluate students' academic achievement based on their abilities.
  4. Provide reasonable and appropriate academic accommodations for students with disabilities in a timely manner.
  5. Maintain and uphold confidentiality of records and communication concerning students with disabilities except where disclosure is necessary for the accommodations, required by law, or authorized by the student.
  6. Provide accommodations free of charge.

Laws Concerning Students with Disabilities

What is the law?
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability against people in programs or activities receiving or benefiting from federal financial assistance. Accordingly, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states:
"No otherwise qualified disabled individual in the United States shall solely by reason of his or her {disability}, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 upholds and extends the standards for compliance set forth in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to employment practices and communications, and policies, procedures and practices that impact the treatment of students with disabilities. It prohibits discrimination for qualified individuals on the basis of disability.

Who is protected under the law?
Under federal law, a person with a disability is any person who:

  1. has a physical or mental impairment.
  2. has a record of such impairment
  3. is regarded as having such an impairment.

To meet the definition of a disability a person's disability must substantially limit one or more major life activities such as self-care, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing or learning. Furthermore Section 504 states:

A "qualified" person with a disability is defined as one who meets the requisite academic and technical standards required for admission or participation in the postsecondary institution's programs and activities.

Example of possible disabilities include:

  • Blindness or visual impairment
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Chronic illness, such as AIDS, arthritis, cancer, cardiac diseases, diabetes, multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy
  • Deafness or hearing impairments
  • Drug or alcohol addiction (Section 504 covers former users and those in recovery programs currently not using drugs or alcohol)
  • Epilepsy or seizure disorders
  • Mental retardation
  • Mobility impairment
  • Specific learning disability
  • Speech disorder
  • Spinal cord or traumatic brain injury
  • Psychological disabilities
  • Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Guidelines for Filing a Grievance or Appeal based Upon a Disability

If a student believes he/she has been denied equal access in the form of appropriate accommodations, modifications, auxiliary aids, or effective communication or suffered discriminatory harassment as described in section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, they have a few options by which to file a grievance. Although the law does not require a student to first use the college’s grievance procedure before filing a complaint with The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education, both the OCR and the college encourage using internal grievance procedures before filing a complaint with OCR.

Discuss Concerns with the Assistant Dean of Students, who coordinates services for students with disabilities. Students with disabilities are responsible for contacting the Assistant Dean of Students if they feel reasonable accommodations are not implemented in an effective or timely manner. The Assistant Dean works with students to resolve disagreements regarding recommended accommodations. If students feel that a professor or staff person is not providing accommodations to which they are entitled, they should contact the Assistant Dean to discuss their concern.

If the concern is related to grade evaluations, the student should follow the appeals process for grades found in the student handbook.

Appealing Accommodation Decisions made by the Associate Dean

Students wishing to appeal a disability determination or accommodation decision by the Assistant Dean of Students should follow the procedures outlined below:

  1. Within seven (7) calendar days after the receipt of the decision by the Assistant Dean of Students, the student may request in writing an appeal review by the Director of Academic Programs or his/her designee. The request to the Director of Academic Programs shall be in writing, and shall include a brief statement of the grounds for appeal. The grounds for appeal shall be that:
    a. There was a substantial failure by the Assistant Dean of Students to comply with the procedures so as to deny a fair review of the request, or
    b. The decision of the Assistant Dean of Students was not supported by the evidence.
  2. The appeal review will be based on the information and materials in the case file, the Assistant Dean of Students findings and recommendations, and the student's written request for an appeal review.
  3. The Director of Academic Programs may affirm, modify, or reverse the decision of the Assistant Dean of Students, or at his/her discretion, refer the matter to the Dean of Students for further review and decision. The Director of Academic Programs shall notify the student in writing of his/her decision within 15 working days after the appeal is received. The decision of the Director of Academic Programs shall be final and not subject to further review.

Macalester College Harassment Committee

Complains of harassment or discrimination based on a disability can be filed with the Macalester College Harassment Committee. A committee made up of faculty and administrators will listen to the complaint, investigate the concerns and render a decision. The details of the MCHC process can be found at www.macalester.edu/mchc/