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UCI Students Speak Out Against Professors Unwilling to Adhere to Disability Accommodations

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UCI’s Disability Services Center (DSC) exists to provide accommodations to students with disabilities. Students registered with the DSC have access to benefits including extended time on exams and alternate testing environments. However, some students have started to speak out against the DSC for not effectively implementing accommodations and failing to mediate issues between students and faculty. 

Third-year chemical engineering major Brian Mora, who has accommodations through the DSC, had a negative experience with thermodynamics lecturer Sherif Hassaan during the spring quarter. Mora recalled an incident during class where he claimed that Hassaan said that he would curve the exams of all the students in his class except for that of the DSC students. 

Mora took to Reddit with the issue on May 12 under the username /u/Spirited-Fly-1755. In the post, he voiced his concerns with Hassaan’s alleged behavior. Many users commented on the post, telling Mora to report Hassaan. 

“Someone on Reddit messaged me personally and said ‘hey, here’s this email, email me,’ he works within the engineering department,” Mora said. “Someone under the chair of the department contacted [Hassaan] and they had went out to lunch with him … thankfully, he changed things up [after the lunch].”

Mora said that following the lunch there have been no further problems with Hassaan and that his attitude towards the class has changed in a positive way. 

Even though issues with Hassaan have been fully resolved, Mora said that the ongoing issue at hand was that the DSC didn’t stop Hassaan from disrupting the DSC-proctored exam. According to Mora, Hassaan was hovering over students shoulders and even took the paper of a student who wasn’t in his class by mistake as he was attempting to read it. 

“Some of the things he was doing he shouldn’t have been doing, so no, I do not think [DSC] handled [the situation] correctly at all,” Mora said. “DSC just needs to step up their game when it comes to professors acting that way.”

Another student, who asked to remain anonymous, told the New University that they also had issues with their professor accommodating them. They claimed that chemistry department professor Kimberly Edwards didn’t allow them to resubmit an assignment following a manic episode because they had forgotten a step in the submission process. 

In Edwards’s class, students can resubmit assignments using “tokens,” which are earned by completing various tasks throughout the quarter. Students must fill out an online resubmission survey on Canvas to use their tokens for a resubmission. 

“I ended up having a manic episode a few days before a big lab report was due and this is like a solid like four days before so I emailed all my professors … originally, Professor Edwards was just like, ‘Oh, it’s okay just use one of your [tokens] and do the resubmission,’” the student said. “I forgot to do [the resubmission survey] because I’ve never had to do a resubmission for this class.” 

Edwards’s lab series uses the specifications-grading system, meaning that students earn no pass, low pass, or high pass on individual assignments; students receive the letter grade based on how many assignments they pass or fail. 

“This is not the difference between some points back, this is do I get a grade or not?,” the student said. “And she pretty much told me that it is unfair of me …  to ask for an exception.” 

The student mentioned the incident during an appointment they had scheduled with DSC later that day but said they didn’t help with the situation. 

“[The DSC] said, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry there’s not much we can do about that since it doesn’t really sound like there’s anything major going on with you,” they said. “I was just like, ‘oh, okay.’ And then [they said,] ‘but you’re more than welcome to send the email to us. It’s just I don’t really think it’s gonna go anywhere.’”

The student said that this is not the first time they’ve faced issues with the DSC.

“One thing I noticed is that for every single mental disability, [DSC] kind of just ‘control C control V’ a list of accommodations for each person,” the source said. “I don’t need extra time [on a test], I need you to explain/advocate what a mental disability is to these professors who clearly do not understand.” 

DSC has had a line of complaints from various students for quite some time. 

As of publication, the DSC has not responded to a New University request for comment.

Laiyla Santillan is a Campus News Staff Writer. She can be reached at laiylas@uci.edu.