Dennis O’Connor, 2006 graduate of UDC’s David A. Clarke School of Law, has just achieved his first legal victory: a claim against his alma mater in the District’s Commission on Human Rights. A July 26 decision held that O’Connor, who uses a wheelchair, had been discriminated against by the university because there were stairs in his way at graduation (“Suit Yourself, Part 2,” City Desk, 6/9) at the
university amphitheatre*, because the wheelchair-friendly doors to the law library closed too early, and because UDC didn’t have a proper wheelchair-evacuation plan in the event of an emergency.
“This is great,” says O’Connor, who came to UDC because Robert Burgdorf, the original drafter of the Americans with Disabilities Act, is on the faculty.
“Mr. O’Connor has got his right to express his feelings, to take whatever course of action he feels was necessary,” says less-enthused UDC spokesperson Michael Andrews, who also points out that some of the problems O’Connor complained about have since been fixed. “The bottom line is that Mr. O’Connor was a student here, and he was able to earn his degree. It seems to me he was able to deal with these problems satisfactorily.”
O’Connor has a pretty good idea of what he wants out of this: “Money,” he says. “Lots of money.”
CORRECTION, 8/17: Due to an editing error, the orginal post mistakenly claimed that the decision addressed O’Connor’s graduation ceremony. It didn’t address the graduation ceremony specifically but rather general accessibility problems O’Connor had at the amphitheatre.