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April 2, 2003

Schneider proposes aid for students with disabilities

From: Iowa State Daily - Apr 2, 2003

By Tom Barton
Daily Staff Writer
April 03, 2003

Government of the Student Body President T.J. Schneider proposed the creation of a Student Accommodations Fund to help students with disabilities participate more actively in student organizations.

Schneider gave his final State of Student Body address Wednesday night at GSB's regular meeting in the Campanile Room of the Memorial Union.

"These students not only face the challenge of rigorous academic work, but also the challenge of living life with differing ability levels. These students deserve the same options as all other students on the ISU campus," Schneider said.

Kedrin Moser, GSB Deputy Director of Disabilities, said the proposal calls for the creation of a special fund administered by a new committee composed of two representatives from GSB appointed by the GSB president, one representative from Disability Resources and one representative from the Student Activities Center.

Moser said the new committee will meet weekly to consider requests for accommodations funding from student organizations and students with disabilities.

"We don't want student organizations to discriminate [potential members] based on ability. We also don't want students with disabilities to feel like they're a burden [on student organizations]," Moser said. "Financially, there is a lot that happens with disabilities. We don't want student organizations to be discouraged from including disabled students due to expenses."

She said this fund will help provide student organizations with accommodations such as sign interpreting, captioning and helping groups pay for handicapped-accessible vans.

Schneider said a reserve of $10,000 in student fees will be used to create the account, and $0.05 per student per semester will be added to the account to ensure its continuation.

The $0.05 that will be collected from students every semester is money already budgeted for in student fees.

Joe Darr, vice president of the Government of the Student Body, said the proposal will go to the Special Student Fees Committee, where it will be debated and voted on for passage. Darr said the proposal does not need senate approval.

"I would be highly surprised if the proposal didn't pass [by the Special Student Fees Committee]," he said.

Darr said the Board of Regents will have to approve the proposal if it is passed by the committee.

He said he believes the Board of Regents will pass the proposal.

If both the Board of Regents and Special Student Fees Committee approve the proposal, the fund will be implemented immediately.

"The first $10,000 will be available [in the fund] as soon as all appropriate actions have been taken. The latest the fund will be implemented is next fall," Darr said.

Schneider said the Student Accommodations Fund is a project that was stared by Aaron Rubin, former Deputy Director of Diversity, and is being carried on by Moser.

In other business, there was a first read on a funding bill to help fund the Veishea Committee's television coverage of the annual parade.

Kerryann Mehmen, general co-chairwoman of Veishea, said KCCI announced in late January they would not cover the parade this year.

Mehmen said KCCI has televised the parade for the past eight to nine years.

She said KCCI's decision not to televise the parade this year stems from budget cuts and lack of man power.

Mehen said they started looking in January for any company in the broadcast area to cover the parade. She said they found Fox affiliate KDSM channel 17, based out of Cedar Rapids, through a personal contact.

Mehen said Fox agreed to cover the parade, but for a cost.

"It's not in our budget to pay for Fox's coverage," she said. "[GSB College of Agriculture Senator] Ben Albright is on Veishea, and he offered to write a bill asking for GSB to help us fund [the television coverage]."

Mehen said KDSM has been cooperative. She said it was originally going to cost $12,000 for television coverage, and now it's going to cost $4,000 for KDSM coverage.

Ben Albright, vice-president elect, said, "[GSB] partially funds Veishea the way it is, and [television coverage of the parade] is great service to the community, and it promotes Iowa State."

Albright said he is confident the bill will pass at the next GSB meeting.

The bill asks for $4,000 be allocated to Veishea from the GSB Discretionary account.

© 2003 Iowa State Daily