Georgia State students are currently unable to receive temporary injury assistance using disability services and many students say the current system in place isn’t effective enough.
Jamar Austin, a Georgia State student, was unable to receive temporary assistance from the Georgia State’s Office of Disability Services after an injury. According to Austin, he was unable to receive a disability excuse because his recovery time was shorter than six weeks.
“The way [the Georgia State system] works is you go through the student disabilities center with your medical note and they write out a disability excuse for you to receive your work from your professors. Unfortunately, that’s only for students with injuries that have a minimum of six week recovery. My injury only had a minimum four-week recovery,” Austin said.
Austin said that he was instructed to take an alternative route in order to be granted make-up work and extensions on his past assignments.
“I had to go speak with the Dean of Students and allow them to work the situation out and they gave me advice with deliberating with them to write a medical excuse out and offer my medical records to my professors to get excused on quizzes, exams and day-to-day work,” Austin said.
Dona Hardaway, the administrative coordinator for testing at Disability Services said the office does not have the accommodations needed for temporary injuries and that is why students are directed to the Dean of Students.
“We don’t accommodate students with temporary injuries because those students receive services [and] support through the Dean of Students. Currently if the student’s temporary injury or recovery from the temporary injury will last longer than six months they may be able to obtain temporary accommodation through our office.” Hardaway said.
The injury was located on his dominant hand, making work for his classes not a viable option.
“I got six stitches in both my middle finger and my pinky finger of my right hand. With me being right-handed I literally could not write anything. With having a full cast on my right hand, I cannot write anything. I don’t even have any range of motion in two of my fingers, well three at that time,” Austin said.
Hardaway said the decision to not grant someone’s disability is not taken lightly and they routinely look over doctors’ notes to make sure they meet the needs of the students who comes to them.
“Our service providers would need to review the doctor‘s evaluation to see if they are eligible. If we are unable to assist them, the student is directed to the Dean of Students office. We always ask if they have talked with their instructors about assistance in class as well,” Hardaway said.
The days he missed left Austin behind in most of his classes and the alternative route did not make the process any shorter.
“It took about a couple extra days [to go through the Dean of Students], but we all know as college students missing one or two back-to-back classes is extremely detrimental, especially with that being a week and a half to two weeks away from spring break. [Also] with only having six weeks of school left after spring break. There’s not much time for error,” Austin said.
Austin said he believes that he had to take on the responsibility that would typically require more assistance from the university, therefor adding to the length of time it took to complete the needed work.
“There was no middle man. I had to go directly to my professors and receive my work while sending them my medical records and getting my medical record from Georgia State’s medical office. Get those, get them approved and then give them to my professors,” Austin said. “That process added maybe an extra two to three weeks into getting all my work back.”
A week after returning to school, Austin was still buried in school work from the three weeks he was out of commission.
“I’m still at this current time receiving some of my make up work, still having to make up missed exams and things like that and with spring break being in the middle of all that week of having no communication with my professors prolonged the experience.” he told The Signal.
While Austin found the process of talking to his professors easy enough, he criticized the process of getting to that point.
“It was just a matter of scanning my documents and emailing it to them. Luckily for me, I had great doctors who pretty much wrote everything out. [They] wrote out all my injuries out for me, the treatment plan for my injuries, when I can go back to work and things like that,” Austin said.
He went the extra mile to have his supervisor write an excuse to his teachers to show them that his injury was something to be taken seriously.
“I actually had my supervisor write out me missing work, so my professors know that i’m just not missing class, [but] I’m missing work as well,” Austin said.
Disability Services do have plans to shorten this lengthy process and create a temporary accommodation option to students. The proposal is currently in the works, according to Hardaway.
“The Office of Disability Services during the spring has worked to develop a temporary injury accommodation process of students. The proposal is going through the necessary process before the office can implement it,” Hardaway said.
However, the proposal has been prolonged due to the multiple university departments it must go through before being approved. The time it takes to confirm all federal regulations are being abided by also lengthens the time it takes to approve the proposal.
“It’s all for the best of our student because we want to be able to accommodate them,” Hardaway said. “We have to go through a variety of departments on campus to make sure we are within federal law. We don’t have the process in place yet, but we’re working on it,” Hardaway said.