Students with Disabilities Policy

As a member school of the Graduate Theological Union consortium, Starr King School for the Ministry students are included in the GTU “Students with Disabilities” policy.  The SKSM Student Services Coordinator can provide assistance in the process of requesting and accessing accommodations through the Graduate Theological Union and your SKSM Advisor can assist you in planning a course of study.

The Graduate Theological Union (GTU) “Students with Disabilities” policy is for the consortium which includes SKSM students. The policy is described below. (Pronouns have been altered in keeping with Starr King’s inclusive approach.)

GTU Accommodations for Differently-Able Students (Students With Disabilities)

Request for Accommodations form:

Permission for Faculty Notification form:

Permission to Release Documentation form:

The GTU participates in a consortium-wide “Students with Disabilities” policy which benefits from a collaborative arrangement with the University of California at Berkeley (effective, fall, 2006).  The policy strives for consistent and equitable student access to educational opportunities throughout the GTU.  In particular, it addresses a differently-able student’s ability to fulfill degree and certificate course and program requirements.  The policy does cover GTU library use, student advising, GTU classroom activities and requirements, program exams, and capstone experiences such as theses and dissertations.  It does not address extracurricular events sponsored by GTU member institutions, student housing, and administrative activities (e.g. registration, access to facilities, etc.).

The GTU Dean of Students serves as the Disabilities Resource Officer (DRO) for the consortium.  The DRO serves as a consortium-wide resource to develop expertise, provide information and consultation, and answer questions.  The DRO works with Students With Disabilities Program staff at UCB who verifies accommodation eligibility and recommends accommodation options.  While eligibility verification and recommendations for accommodations are centralized, implementation of accommodations reflects individual institutional resources and cultures.

Student Request: The student is responsible for fully participating in the process and exercising due diligence to ensure that the provision of accommodations is successfully accomplished.  The differently able student who wishes to request accommodations with their academic work submits a request form to the GTU DRO (the form is available on the GTU website).  The student needs to include official written documentation with the form from a professional who has the credentials and expertise to diagnosis the student’s condition (a form for this step is available on the GTU website).  The student is responsible for incurring any cost associated with the documentation.  The DRO informs the student’s institutional contact that a request has been made and forwards the form and supporting documentation to the UCB Students With Disabilities Program office for review.  The UCB office judges whether or not the student’s disability is eligible for accommodation and recommends a variety of possible accommodations.

Accommodations are not intended to give differently-able students an unfair advantage, but to remove barriers that prevent differently-able students from learning and from demonstrating what they have learned, in the context of their formal degree or certificate program.

The Timing of a Student Request: The differently-able student should request accommodations in advance of when the accommodation is needed.  The student needs to factor in the amount of time required to secure written documentation from an appropriate professional.  G/S/he needs to appreciate that the DRO and institutional contact person have other responsibilities and require a reasonable amount of time to integrate student requests within their workload.  G/S/he also needs to appreciate the time required for GTU to collaborate with UCB on the verification and recommended accommodations process.

Students eligible for academic accommodations will normally have their request reviewed and, if appropriate, approved no more than three weeks after submitting the request.

Decision: The DRO works with the institutional contact to consider UCB’s decision.  This gives individual GTU institutions the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process, particularly if UCB rejects a student request.  If UCB recommends approval, the DRO works with the institutional contact to finalize accommodation options in the context of institutional resources and culture and to assure consistency and equity across the consortium.  An accommodation is not “reasonable” if it will necessitate modifications of the essential nature of a program or activity or would place undue financial or administrative burdens on the institution.

Next, the institutional contact works with the student and appropriate faculty to make sure recommended accommodations can be implemented and do not compromise the academic integrity of the educational opportunity (a form for this step in the process is available on the GTU website).

The DRO conveys the official decision and, if appropriate, recommended accommodations to the student by email, who then uses written confirmation to work with appropriate staff and faculty on the implementation of accommodations.

Implementation: Accommodations will apply to all educational events described in the DRO’s email for up to three years.  Students should use the DRO’s email to work with faculty and staff to arrange accommodations as needed.

Appeal: The differently-able student and/or faculty involved with the student may not agree with the DRO’s decision for accommodations.  If a faculty member disagrees with and/or refuses to provide the recommended accommodations, the DRO and institutional contact should work with the faculty member to resolve the faculty member’s concerns.  The DRO can consult with UCB’s Students With Disabilities Program and their section 504 compliance officer for advice on ways to resolve the conflict with the faculty member.  If a resolution is impossible, the differently-able student can seek remedy from the faculty member’s school’s academic grievance policy.

If a student disagrees with the DRO’s decision and/or recommended accommodations, G/S/he can appeal the decision through the student’s own school’s academic grievance policy.  Again, the DRO and institutional contact should work with the student first to find ways to resolve the student’s concerns.

Institutional Contacts:

For SKSM: Rev. Lindi Ramsden, Acting Dean of Students and Community Life,

The Graduate Theological Union Disabilities Resource Officer (DRO) is:

Kathleen Kook, Dean of Students,