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October 31, 2007 - Image 1

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2007-10-31

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The Statement
ie~i an Bat iy




Ann Arbor, Michigan

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


F *
Feds: U ignored
disabled fans
42-page letter cites University's continued
failure to accommodate
wheelchair-bound fans at Big House

Some of the problems with Michigan Stadium cited by the Education Department

PRESSBOX:Althoughthe pressboxis used
as overflow seating when the wheelchair-
accessible platforms arefull, the Officefor
Civil Rights found thatthe structure doesn't
provide adequate routesfor wheelchair
users toget to bathrooms and concessions.
Additionally, the box where the University's
regentsand their guests watch thegame is
only accessible using a set of four stairs. The
letter tellsthe University to make these two
areas accessible to wheelchair users in com-
pliancewith ADA regulations.

Michigan Student Assembly Rep. Anton Vuljaj resigned from
his post as head of MSA's powerful Budget Priorities Com-
mittee last night. citing personal issues. Vuljj is charged with
a telony and a high court misdemeannr in connection with a
denial of service attackduring the 2006 MSA election. He was
dressed as Fred Flinstone for Halloween.
MSA defies
code, gives
seat to Ford
Decision likely to be appealed to
Central Student Judiciary
Daily StaffReporters
In a move that disregards parts of the Michigan
Scudent Assembly's governing codes, MSA voced to
give a seat to the School of Public Policy at its meeting
last night.
A proposal breaking down the number of MSA
representatives allotted to each of the University's
schools or colleges was amended to allow one seat for
Public Policy. The proposal passed by a vote of 24 to 8
with three abstentions.
MSA President Zack Yost said the decision would
likely be challenged in the Central Student Judiciary
today. The CSJ could end up deciding the final seat
allocation for the upcoming studentcgovernmentcelec-
Members in support of the proposal said MSA's
constitution requires that Public Policy get a seat.
The constitution states: "Each student or college shall
receive at least one representative."
But according to the assembly's Compiled Code,
colleges' populations most be defined by the popula-
tion figures provided solely by the registrar. The most
recent registrar's report is from winter semester, when
the Public Policy school had no undergraduates.
Members supporting the amended proposal said
that in cases of ambiguity such as this, the assembly's
code states that constitution trumps code - thus
every school should have an MSA seat, including Pub-
lit Policy.
But opposing members said there is no ambiguity..
They said the code does not define Public Policy as a
college based on the registrar's numbers.
Many members of the assembly, including Yost,
said MSA had a moral obligation to represent the stu-
dents of Public Policy by providing them with a seat.
During the debate, there were repeated objections
to whether the assembly could even consider the pro-
posal, but Yost and the majority of the assembly over-
See MSA, Page 7A

Daily News Editor
A day after the University acknowl-
edged receiving a letter from the
Department of Education describ-
ing Michigan Stadium as largely
unfriendly to disabled fans and the
University as largely unwillingto pro-
vide information about the stadium
to the department's Office for Civil
Rights, University officials said they
disagree with the letter's substance
but will negotiate with the office.
The University has seven more
days to reach an agreement with the
OCR about how to make Michigan
Stadium accessible. If no deal is made,
the Department of Education could
make moves to cut its funding to the
If the University hopes to maintain
its current budget, that's not an option
- the University received almost $35
million in Department of Education
grants last year.
Ontopofthat,the departmentcould
also take away the millions of dollars
in Pell grants, work-study funds and
student loans that University students
receive each year, said Jim Bradshaw,
a spokesman for the Department of
Education, in an interview yesterday.
University spokeswoman Kelly
Cunningham declined to comment
on specific claims made in the letter,
which was sent on Friday, saying the
University intends to discuss the mat-
ter with the Department of Education
over the next week.

See the full text of the
letter at mkhigandaily.com
"I don't feel it's appropriate to go
point-by-point with the different alle-
gations that they're making," Cun-
ningham said. "Suffice it to say that
we disagree with the allegations in the
report and we will have a response."
Bradshaw said the department usu-
ally reaches an agreement with the
offending party.
"In the vast majority of cases, we're
able to work with schools to help
them come into compliance with the
law," he said. "While cutting off fund-
ing is an option, it's a last resort. But it
is an option.It is part of the law that
we enforce."
The OCR's letter says that the Uni-
versity has brokenthose laws by failing
to provide adequate accommodations
for disabled fans. The letter says the
University's facilities have discour-
aged fans who need wheelchairs from
attendingfootball games.
It says one fan described getting
friction burns on his hands from try-
ing to move down a steep slope on a
wheelchair ramp and another told
investigators that his wheelchair-
bound father soiled himself after being
unable to find an accessible bathroom.
A third fan reported having emptied
his catheter bag on the concourse next
to a tree because he couldn't get his
wheelchair through a hallway to an
accessible stall.
In the letter, stadium patrons

ENTRANCES: The letter criticized the acces-
sibility oftthe stadium's concourse, saying it
had many slopes greater than those allowed
under ADA regulations.on ramps provided to
patrons using wheelchairs. "Several witness-
es... described sufferingtfriction burns on their
hands from trying to independently transport
themselvesdown ramps, and many witnesses
who used wheelchairsor walkers said they
needed one to two people to help them get
up or down ramps due to the steep slopes."

BATHROOMS: According to the letter, all
of the bathrooms in the stadium designated
as wheelchair-accessible deviate from dis-
ability rules. In some cases, the stalls are too
narrow and the toilets too high. For one visit,
the bathroomfloor was covered in water and
debris, violating the requirement that build-
ings provide "slip-resistant' floorsfor wheel-
chair-accessible bathrooms. The letter also
ordered thetUniversity to place one accessible
portable toilet wherever itprovides portable
toilets insidethestadium.
PLATFORMS: According to the letter, fans
in wheelchairs are usually "squeezed together
as tightly as possible" when sitting on the
platform designatedtfor wheelchairs. In many
cases, fans standing in front oftthe platforms
make it hardfor those in wheelchairs to see
the game. Some wheelchair-bound people
told the Department of Educationthat they
had to sit in the wheelchair platforms behind
the endzoneswhen attendinguspecial events,
separating themfrom the rest of fans sitting
on the sidelines. The Department of Educa-
tion argues that these platformsshould be
expanded to surround the entire entrance
portal oftthe stadiumlto give fans in wheel-
chairs more possibleviewing angles.
O CONCESSIONS: The letter says
the counters at most oftthe stadi-
um's concessions stands are too
low to be used bytfans in wheelchairs.While
University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham
said the Uniersity hasadjusted manycon-
cessions stands to accommodatetfans using
wheelchairs, the letter says those counters
are still too high. It alsosays the University
needs to offer wheelchair access to all types
of concessions inall parts oftthe stadium.

M-DEN: The letter argues that all threeM
Den locations in the stadium were built atter
1990 and therefore must comply with ADA
standards. According to the letter,the M-Dens
do not have the numberof handrails required
for entry ramps and alsohave thresholds at
the entrances higher than the limit set by law.

Ann Arbor to spend federal funds
on promoting use of solar energy

After long delay, budget finally nearing
approval from legislature, Granholm


Federal gov't gives
city $200,000
Daily StaffReporter
Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje
hopes the wind and sun will pro-
vide one-third of Ann Arbor's ener-

gy by 2010.
That goal is drawing a response
from the federal government,
which recently designated Ann
Arbor a "Solar City" and gave it
$200,000 to market solar energy to
In an effort to increase the use
of environmentally-friendly energy
sources, the government selected

13 American cities based on their
proposals to switch from their cur-
rent energy sources to solar power.
Each city submitted proposals
to the U.S. Department of Energy
detailing how, if selected, the fund-
ing would be used to market and
inform citizens about the use of
rerewable energy.
See SOLAR, Page 7A

Jniversities get deal to fund state government.
Lawmakers expected the com-
I percent promise to be signed by nego-
tiators after midnight and then
funding hike quickly passed by the Republican-
led Senate and Democratic-con-
NSING (AP) - The Legisla- trolled House.
nd Gov. Jennifer Granholm Under the tentative agreement,
day agreed to turn over a medium-security section of the
adoption, foster care and W.J. Maxey Boys Training School
le justice services to private in Whitmore Lake would close.
ers - the final piece of. a Sixty youthful offenders would

be moved to a private facility. No
workers there would lose their
elsewhere in the Department of
Human Services.
"We are protecting those peo-
ple who have been public employ-
ees for a long time," said House
Appropriation Chairman George
Cushingberry Jr. ' (D-Detroit).
Extra foster care and adoption'
See BUDGET, Page 7A

ture a


Call 734-763-2459 or e-mail
news@michigandaily.com and let us know.

A modest proposal for Halloween reform

INDEX NEWS.. .........................2A CLASSIFIEDS......... .6A
Vol. CXV1l,.No.40 POPINION.......................4A SPORTS .............................8A
©2007The MichiganvDaily ARTS ................................. S A T H E S TAT E M E N T....B..... ...1 B

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