Alice Song / Sun Staff Photographer

Matthew Battaglia ’16 grad sponsored a University Assembly resolution that would reduce parking fees for people with temporary disabilities, such as pregnancy or broken bones.

May 2, 2018

University Assembly Calls for Pollack to Oppose Merger, Debates Temporary Disability Accommodations

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The University Assembly met Tuesday evening to debate topics including the idea of merging the College of Human Ecology and the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the accessibility of Cornell’s campus.

The assembly passed a resolution, 9-2-0, opposing the proposed idea of merger, which was sponsored by Joseph Anderson ’20, chair of the U.A. Campus Welfare Committee.

The resolution called for President Martha E. Pollack to “formally state her opposition to the proposed merger,” which, according to Anderson, is a necessary step in order to move away from basic discussion of the merger idea towards having a more beneficial discussion of social sciences at Cornell.

“Taking it off the table is the best option to improve what we actually have,” said Anderson, referring to the current organizational structure of social sciences at Cornell.

The Sun recently reported that 88 percent of ILR faculty opposed the merger, with faculty in ILR concerned that it would take away from the school’s focus.

Anderson characterized the resolution as a formal “yes or no” ask to the president and provost on whether they support the policy.

“Hopefully it’s a no, because it would be such a detriment to Cornell,” Anderson said.

In addition, the University Assembly discussed a resolution on reducing parking fees for those with temporary disabilities, such as pregnancy or broken bones.

The resolution was sponsored by Matthew Battaglia ’16 grad and Ekarina Winarto grad, both Graduate and Professional Student Assembly representatives. During the meeting’s conversation, Battaglia stressed how it was it “almost illegal” for the University to not provide accommodations for all people with temporary disabilities.

Current Cornell policy states that although faculty and staff can get temporary disability parking for up to two months for free, according to Human Resources, this permit excludes pregnancy.

In an interview with The Sun, Winarto and Battaglia both pointed out how they viewed it as “discriminatory” to not apply the same temporary disability parking to pregnant faculty and staff.

“You can’t treat disability related to pregnancy any different[ly] than other disabilities, which Cornell empirically is,” Battaglia said.

The resolution also hopes to grant students similar parking benefits, since according the Student Disability Services’ website, students must pay the same price for an accessible parking permit as a regular parking permit, and are not granted free temporary permits.

Although Cornell offers other transportation services for those with temporary disabilities, such as CULift, the resolution states such accommodations “are not well suited for temporary disabilities due to the long processing time and documentation required.”

Further, Battaglia questioned why the University charges the same permit price for people who have difficulties getting around due to temporary disabilities.

“The fees are designed to discourage you [from parking on campus], and that’s concerning because you don’t choose to break your foot, or in essence be unable to walk or move around on campus,” Battaglia said. “Our concern is that it’s just not fair.”