Hello. My name is James G. Wilson, and I am legally blind. I first arrived in DeKalb (home of NIU) in May 1994 to study Meteorology at NIU. Because of my visual impairment, requests were made for reasonable accommodations to the program's computer labs (this program is highly computer-intensive). Had I known about NIU's incestuous appeals process and arrogance in its continued non-compliance with the law beforehand, I certainly would have gone elsewhere. For explanations of that incestuous process and arrogance, please read the materials that follow.
The information that follows is a critical review of the information submitted to Senator Carol Moseley-Braun's office by NIU General Counsel George M. Shur on May 19, 1998. I received this information on May 28, 1998, and I reviewed it carefully. Although the Senator's office claims there is nothing more they can do on my behalf, it should be noted that I spoke with Senator Braun's assistant, Lerone Bennett III, on June 2, 1998. He has confirmed the state of the information that I received. He possesses copies obtained from Mr. Shur that are in the same state.
First, here is a link to George Shur's Summary of the evidence he provides. Please read it carefully, so that you'll understand the information and links that follow.
For those that aren't familiar with the blow by blow account of my days at NIU, please visit my documentation pages.
Also, here is my final attempt to rectify the problems with NIU's "system" that I titled,
Remedying NIU's Failed Appeals Process
Note, for future reference, that I did speak with Mr. Bowen and Dr. Gresholdt as outlined in this document.
Mr. Shur's first assertion on the opening page alleges that I am circumventing the law by not taking my claims to the appropriate agencies. This is a "red herring". He knows full-well that any claims of discrimination MUST be filed within 180 days of the FIRST incidence of a discriminatory act. For me, this first occurred on June 23, 1994. By the time it became realistic enough to pursue such charges through these agencies (one must have substantive proof for these allegations), it was March 8, 1995- the day after our "productive" meeting to resolve my accessibility issues. This was 248 days after the first incident. Even if they were to cite the first incident was the first day of classes (August 28, 1994), it would STILL be two days too late at 182 days!
In paragraph four, Mr. Shur states that my claims have been investigated by "CAAR, our section 504 Coordinator, our ADA Coordinator and ADA Committee, the NIU Office of Affirmative Action, the Chair of the Department of Geography, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and my office." I only have information pertaining to the "investigations" done by Dean Kitterle, the ADA Committee, and Mr. Shur's own summaries. I've tried on any number of occasions to obtain information from the Affirmative Action office without success. There is NO written evidence that investigations by CAAR, the Geog. dept., the ADA coordinator, OR the section 504 coordinator were EVER done.
In paragraph five, Mr. Shur claims that "immediate action was taken to meet [my] requests." in response
to my requests for accommodation.
First request: June 23, 1994 (a meeting with professors for this request).
First instances of accommodation: March 7, 1995 (enlarged fonts on the SUN computer account).
Mr. Shur has absolutely no evidence that ANY accommodation occurred prior to March 7, 1995.
Mr. Shur then states (and underlines) that my "academic career was not adversely affected. He was a good student, and to this day, is in good academic standing." These statements reflect the beginnings of a pattern of deceit Mr. Shur created in his responses. One only need review my final grade report from NIU in the spring of 1996 to see the utter falsity of such ridiculous claims. Frankly, I don't understand how being placed on academic dismissal does not "adversely affect" my academic career.
In paragraph six, Mr. Shur claims that my "academic status within the Department of Geography was not adversely affected by the supposed lack of accommodation." That statement does not agree with the grades on my exams and projects during the Fall semester of 1995. The fact that I was failing all classes for that semester (despite the fact that my professors intentionally, and incorrectly, assigned grades of "W" for those courses) provides more evidence to NIU's deceitful actions. Nor does Mr. Shur's statement reflect the fact that I had to give up my spring vacation (after finals) in 1995 to make up all of the work that others had the opportunity to do during the regular semester. I managed to change a "C" to a "B" for that effort (the only semester in which I made "Dean's List"). Nor does it reflect the fact that I had to rely unduly upon my peers to read the computer screens for me during the time BEFORE the March 7, 1995 meeting that netted the FIRST attempts by the university to rectify the situation. My peers are material witnesses to these facts.
In section "1." of Mr. Shur's summaries of attached documents, he claims (underlined) that "There is no claim that [ I ] was denied accommodations for the Mathematics courses taken .... in the spring of 1996." This, too, is a false statement. I made my claims known to my professor (Dr. Hosea), Michael Prais (ACS), AND John Teucke (his supervisor) after I could not access the "adapted" computer in Steven's Annex (our math class was held there that day.) Further proof to that fact exists in Dr. Hosea's statement on TomPaine (a faculty mailing list) which can be found by clicking here.
In section "2.", Mr. Shur states (underlined) that "there is no request for relief or accommodation." in reference to my May 25, 1995 letter addressing my concerns for accessibility to NIU's computer systems. Apparently, Mr. Shur only reads what he wants to read. Please review the section of my May 25, 1995 letter where I make exactly such requests for relief and accommodation beginning in the THIRD paragraph down.
In section "4.", Mr. Shur makes claims that I now deny that "outside concerns" forced me to withdraw from the Meteorology program. This is not true. Those "outside concerns" involved my failure to get the Geography dept. (and other NIU offices) to comply with the ADA laws of 1991- ie: obtaining accessible computer equipment. "Outside concerns" refers to being "other than in-class" activities. Still, not having accessible equipment for the labs, I suppose, makes that a contradiction in terms.
In section "5.", Mr. Shur mentions the attached letter from Dean Kitterle of January 8, 1996.
Here is Dean Kitterle's letter of Jan. 8, 1996.
Conspicuously, Mr. Shur fails to attach My rebuttal to Dean Kitterle's letter.
In section "6.", Mr. Shur mentions Steve Cunningham's letter of January 11, 1996.
Click here to read the letter that Mr. Shur submitted to the Senator's office.
I mention "the letter that Mr. Shur submitted" because it IS different from the
letter that I received from Mr. Cunningham on Jan. 12, 1996. If you look
carefully at the last sentence of page 1 of Mr. Shur's submission, you'll see the words "did not" scribbled
there. Those scribbled words were NOT on the letter that Mr. Cunningham sent to me in
1996. I even called the Senator's office on June 2, 1998 to ask about this. Lerone Bennett III acknowledged
that his copy of Mr. Shur's submission ALSO had the scribbled words "did not" on it, and neither he, nor
the Honorable Senator wrote them there. This leads to the conclusion that Mr. Shur must have doctored
this evidence so as to make it consistent with HIS arguments. There is nothing more underhanded than
shamelessly tampering with evidence, and this is the most concrete peice of evidence I now have that
Mr. Shur is NOT on the up and up.
It should also be noted that I was steered to this ADA committee by three members of the Affirmative Action Office after having explained my situation to them. Since Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Shur both conclude that I took the wrong route by approaching the ADA committee, the fault STILL lies with NIU.
In section "7.", Mr. Shur claims that I have no evidence of bias on the part of the ADA committee. One
only needs to look at the makeup of that committee to see what potential biases may exist:
Nancy Kasinski (Director of CAAR)
Gary Gresholdt (section 504 coordinator)
George Shur (NIU general counsel)
Terry Kessler (ADA Coordinator)
Marilyn Monteiro (Affirmative Action Office)
and four others made up this "non-biased" committee.
Furthermore, it happened to be a (?)coincidence(?) that Dean Kitterle's letter with the results of his "investigation" arrived to these committee members just in time for their meeting. I didn't receive it until the next day when it was too late to show the committee ALL of the errors in the Kitterle "investigation."
In section "8.", Mr. Shur "hammers home" his points about my not contacting either Mr. Bowen or
Mr. Gresholdt (remember, he has altered Mr. Cunningham's document to make these claims). Evidence exists
to support that I attempted to contact both these people to resolve my issues with NIU. First, I contacted
Gary Gresholdt. See the links below:
Here is the opening portion of a letter from Nancy Kasinski (CAAR) dated May 24, 1995)
Details of my conversation with Mr. Gresholdt that led to the Kasinski letter
Campus newspaper article showing Gresholdt lied about his knowledge of CAAR complaints
As for my meeting with Mr. Bowen, that is documented, and it took place on November 16, 1995. He, too, was not at all interested in the proven misconduct of members of the CAAR staff. Needless to say, Mr. Shur, and members of his "client", have gone to great lengths to derail all of my attempts to get fair hearings regarding the issue of computer accessibility at NIU.
Yes, Mr. Shur, communication IS a two-way street. Unfortunately, employees of these "many offices" were not willing to communicate to me, in an honest manner, what was actually going on behind the scenes. I think the preceding paragraphs of this document more than adequately show that this is true. I also believe that this document DOES show that "[people were] acting out of malice ... [and] ... deliberately misrepresented [the facts]." Mr. Shur's gross disrespect for the law, by deliberately altering documents, citing false and misleading "investigations", and twisting them into an indictment of my character (instead of addressing the issues honestly) is the crowning point of the myriad of deceptions I endured throughout the NIU process of appeals.
I've already shown that my refusal to continue working with CAAR involved, not my "personal distaste for some of its personnel", but my providing evidence of blatant misconduct and unprofessionalism on the part of those employees. In one part of Mr. Shur's letter, he mentions my May 25, 1995 letter, June 29, 1995 additions, and addenda. Now, he tries to mislead us by saying that "[ I did not] appear to have followed-up the May 25th letter until the November 1995 letter...". Funny how he can now dismiss all of those events that took place during the summer session of 1995, after he first acknowledged that I did, indeed, follow-up on that letter in any number of ways.
The rest of Mr. Shur's letter has already been shown to hinge on false, misleading, AND doctored evidence
that he supplied to the Senator's office. There is really little or nothing more to say about this frightfully
deceptive act on the part of Mr. Shur accept: Shame on you and your client. I think it is fair to say that I,
when given accessible equipment to work with, have been a rather productive individual. Mr. Shur callously
observes that my delay in responding to his request for materials was "due to some unfortunate episode
with a pet." You're grabbing at straws, Mr. Shur. You know as well as I do that I have been busy with
projects that better the world through research of information on feline leukemia (FeLV)
while you were
working on your deceitful diatribe of May 19, 1998. I think that says plenty about both of our characters,
don't you? Well, that's about it- unless you have more "responses", Mr. Shur. I can only hope that people
will now see the true nature of the events that took place at NIU between June 23, 1994 and May 4, 1996.
Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com if you
have any questions or comments.