COLORADO SPRINGS – A University of Colorado at Colorado Springs student with down syndrome is calling for the university to allow students with intellectual disabilities who earn certificates to walk with students who earn degrees at commencement ceremonies.
More than 6,000 signatures have been collected on junior Nick Harmon’s change.org petition that seeks supporters to “advocate for inclusiveness and equality on campus,” The Gazette reported on Thursday.
School officials say the university system’s graduation policy – bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree earners are permitted to walk at commencement, but not those in certificate or endorsement programs – is not discriminatory because it applies to all students.
The petitioners, who are in a four-year pilot Inclusive Higher Education Certificate Program, argue they should have the same privilege as other students because they pay the same tuition and fees and their program requires 55 credit hours.
A four-year bachelor’s degree requires 120 credit hours.
Sixteen intellectually disabled students are participating in the certificate program at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Harmon said he and two others receiving their certificates in May 2020 would like to “have the same opportunities to celebrate” their accomplishments.
Campus spokesman Jared Verner said the university is “looking at ways to recognize their accomplishments” when the first batch of students in the pilot program finish next spring.