Prospective Law Student Goes After University For Housing
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 27, 2006
NEW DELHI, INDIA--Pooja Sharma has been accepted as a law student by Symbiosis Law College, one of the top law universities in all of India.
That's quite an achievement for any 17-year-old.
"I want to become a reputed lawyer and serve my country," Sharma recently told IANS.
It turns out, however, that she has already learned her first legal lesson before she starts classes.
When Sharma arrived at the college three weeks ago, the prospective student, who uses a wheelchair because of a physical disability, learned that the school had not arranged for an accessible, single room at the campus student hostel. Instead, Sharma and her wheelchair would have to share a non-accessible room with two other students.
"The college has backtracked from its promise of giving me a suitable accommodation -- a single room in the hostel," Sharma told India E-News.
"As a physically challenged girl, don't I have the right to study like a normal student? Can't I dream big? Can't I ever go out of my city to pursue higher education?"
Sharma's family has enlisted the help of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People, and the advocacy organization Disability Rights Group, which asked Sunil Kumar, the Joint Secretary in the Bureau of University and Higher Education, to intervene.
"It seems that the college authorities are consciously demoralizing the girl and her family with the intention that she leave the college," DRG director Javed Abidi told The Hindu news service.
A university official told The Indian Express that the law college itself does not have student housing, and that no "single-seater" was available at the 110-bed facility that houses students from 33 institutes. The spokesperson added that a new hostel will have special accommodations for students with disabilities.
Upon returning to her hometown over the weekend, Sharma said she and the NCPEDP are filing a legal complaint with the Supreme Court.
"Why can't the government and educational institutions help me and others like me get good education?" she asked. "I want to be an independent person and pursue my dream."
"Disabled girl refused hostel room in Pune law college" (India E-News)
"Theres no room for bright, disabled law student in Symbiosis hostel" (Pune Newsline)