Kent State hiring requirements unfair

Trudy Steuernagel

Dear editor,

Stephen Hawking is not qualified to be hired as the Dean of our Honors College.

Why? According to the requirements listed for the position, advertised on the university’s Web site, the physical requirements for the position are as follows:

“Light work-exerting up to 20 pounds of force occasionally, and/or up to 10 pounds of force frequently, and/or negligible amount of force constantly to move objects. Typically requires sitting, walking, standing, bending, keying, talking, hearing, seeing and repetitive motions.”

Hawking, the eminent physicist, has ALS, more commonly referred to as Lou Gehrigs disease, and is confined to a wheelchair with little if any control of his motor functions. He uses an artificial synthesizer to speak. He cannot sit, walk, stand, bend, key, or talk without assistance. With Hawking, however, the deficits are minimal compared to what he would bring to the job including, but not limited to, his incredible intellect and his international stature.

Truthfully, I don’t believe Hawking has any interest in becoming dean of our Honors College. Our loss. What I do believe, however, is that the physical requirements listed for this position are reflective of a cultural bias against individuals with disabilities.

We look at what is missing, not at what an individual with challenges might bring to a position. We are all challenged in some way.

Isn’t it time we stop thinking that a person who cannot walk cannot be a dean? That a person who cannot “key” cannot lead our Honors College? Ironically, my son, whose autism guarantees he does more than enough repetitive motions to qualify him for this aspect of the position, would not receive adequate health coverage because KSU contains to retain the autism waiver in its health plan. Darned if you do; darned if you don’t.

Trudy Steuernagel

Political science professor