By: Richard Bernstein 6/14/13 This was a memorable week in our fight to eradicate bullying from Michigan’s schools. As the school year comes to a...
By Richard Bernstein It was a great honor to have recently returned from traveling to London to work with Chabad Lubavitch UK. Chabad Lubavitch is...
A car accident can be a traumatic experience, no matter how serious. Even experienced, cautious drivers can be involved in accidents due to the negligent...
The Oakland Press
By JERRY WOLFFE
December 1, 2006
Michael Harris, a Marine veteran and Michigan Paralyzed Veteran of America executive, who uses a wheelchair, wants to watch the University of Michigan football team from a good seat.
He contends that's not possible unless the U-M Board of Regents revises a massive renovation plan.
The 95 wheelchair seats at the 107,501-seat Michigan Stadium are in the second to last top row or in the end zones, making the action hard to see. Harris, deputy executive director of the Novi-based paralyzed veterans group, and Farmington Hills attorney Richard Bernstein met Wednesday for about an hour with Marvin Krislov, the vice president and general counsel for the University of Michigan, to discuss plans to renovate the 80-year-old stadium.
Disability advocates want wheelchair seating throughout the stadium in all price ranges as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"Our goal is to hopefully continue discussions to resolve this so we don't have to pursue legal remedies," said Harris, of Westland.
"The university is fully committed to the accessibility of the stadium for all members of our community and we will, of course, comply with the ADA and all other law," said U-M spokeswoman Kelly E. Cunningham. "We look forward to additional discussion with Mr. Bernstein and the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America in the future."
"It's interesting that the legal department is arguing it's a repair and not an alteration and, thus, it is doing everything it can so the U-M doesn't have to comply with the ADA," Bernstein said. Alterations must be accessible and repairs necessarily do not, he said.
Another meeting was planned, but no date was set.
Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman has said renovation plans for the stadium included "a significant expansion of seating for fans with impaired mobility."
Harris and Bernstein said 76 new wheelchair seats in addition to the current 95 were planned. The ADA requires 1 percent of seats in a stadium to be wheelchair-accessible, or 1,075 for Michigan Stadium.
On Nov. 17, the board of regents approved a $226 million renovation of the stadium. Construction starts in March.
"It's really quite remarkable the President Coleman, who speaks about diversity as a No. 1 priority, is relegating wheelchair users and paralyzed veterans and students to the next to last row in the upper deck," said Bernstein.
"The president's plans don't allow for wheelchair-using students to enjoy the game with their fellow students."
On June 5, 2000, a complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Education when Lee C. Bollinger was U-M's president.
The complaint said Michigan Stadium doesn't meet the needs of people with disabilities.
In March 2005, the federal Office for Civil Rights found the university not in compliance with the ADA Architectural Guidelines.
Visually Impaired Athlete Sues USA Triathlon
Richard Bernstein Challenges ABA for Discrimination Against Blind Law Students
Michigan Sports Hall of Fame Honors Richard Bernstein with Courage Award
Attorney Richard Bernstein Named Leader in the Law by Michigan Lawyers Weekly
Victory! Disabled Win Access to U-M Stadium