Understanding the proposed St. Paul teachers’ union contract
The Saint Paul Federation of Educators and the Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) district are currently negotiating a new contract. The union is asking for a $7,500 pay increase for…
It must have been challenging for universities to concoct new ways to spend the millions of dollars in federal funding that poured in during the pandemic. That might account for why Minnesota State University, Mankato threw $1 million at scattering 100 or so glass phone booth-like study pods inside buildings around campus last year.
The university pitched the “endless possibilities” for the shiny structures that apparently cost about $10,000 or so apiece.
-Transition between physical and online classes
–Study or do virtual group work
-Make telehealth or other personal calls
-Have virtual advisor meetings
–Record video or audio for class projects
-Sit back, relax, and recharge
But the shiny glass enclosures soon generated attention for a much different reason, following a professor’s complaint that the pods violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. The criticism led to a discrimination investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) that’s been chronicled in the Free Press.
Social work professor Nancy Fitzsimons filed the initial complaint in September. In a “My View” opinion piece published in The Free Press in September, she wrote the university was “well-aware that they would be discriminating against students, faculty and staff with mobility disabilities on campus by creating 100-plus inaccessible spaces on campus”
“Will MavPODS help with the university’s effort to be a ‘welcoming, equitable and inclusive university’?” she wrote. “The answer is a resounding no if you are a current student, prospective student, current faculty or staff, or prospective faculty or staff who needs an ‘accessible option.’ This space is not for you.”
The discrimination probe recently wound down with MSU agreeing to make changes to better accommodate students with mobility challenges. The agreement includes repositioning three of four much larger pods hurriedly installed after the controversy surfaced and adding at least two more.
Along with ordering another accessible pod by May 1, MSU agreed to promptly install it once received and provide evidence of purchase by May 15.
A third requirement in the resolution tasks MSU with installing a pod in the Memorial Library by Sept. 1. MSU will need to ensure the pods are distributed across the campus, as no more than one can be in any single building.
MSU officials issued a statement in hopes of putting the embarrassing episode to rest.
“The University worked with OCR, faculty experts and students to reach a solution that ensures the University fully complies with ADA requirements while also ensuring the MavPods are an asset that enhances the campus experience for all of our students and entire campus community,” the statement read.
But the university still must provide the feds with proof of compliance by Sept. 15. Otherwise investigators from the education department’s Office of Civil Rights warn they’ll be back.
When lawmakers legalized marijuana last session, they also set aside tens of millions of tax dollars to subsidize the marijuana industry. The bill that legalized marijuana, HF 100, instructed the…
Evan Ramstad at the Star Tribune wrote a great story highlighting the multitude of entirely foreseeable potholes that electric buses are hitting in towns across Minnesota. The piece is solid…
But you already knew that. Although he has not yet been charged in the Thanksgiving-eve fatal stabbing at an Edina bus stop, KSTP-5 has named the 32-year-old suspect in the…
Last week, the Fraser Institute published its annual Economic Freedom of North America report. The new edition, which looks at data from 2021, ranked Minnesota among the least free states…
The 2023 legislature set up a 13-member commission to redesign the Minnesota state flag and seal based on the false narrative that the design depicts a Native American on horseback…