Family suing after Columbia College denies student's disabled father from using campus bathroom
CHICAGO - The family of a Columbia College student is pursuing legal action after alleging the school discriminated against his disabled father by denying him access to the restroom, resulting in a humiliating ordeal.
The son, Jose Eusebio-Palencia, is a third-year student at Columbia and said his disabled father was having a bathroom emergency when he was dropping him off on South Wabash on April 4th. Security denied him use of the restroom, which is against school policy.
The school has since apologized.
"Am I supposed to accept this apology for what they did to my father?" said Eusebio-Palencia. "I've been coming here for three quiet years, getting dropped off here. I'm an honor student here. So why did my father get treated this way, regardless of policy?"
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His father, Jose Palencia, who has suffered two strokes and doesn't have full use of the left side of his body, was denied use of the restroom at 916 South Wabash, despite pleading with security that it was an emergency.
"Things got complicated as my dad could no longer hold it, my father ended up defecating himself right in front of staff," said his daughter, Jennifer Santoyo. "Can you imagine how humiliated my father felt at that time?"
"They just told me to leave," said Palencia. "To leave the premises, or I was going to get arrested, slowly walking to my car. I don't know if you guys can imagine, but it was horrible."
Columbia College issued a statement saying in part, "Columbia deeply regrets this incident and has apologized to the family privately and would like to take this opportunity to do so publicly. The college is making sure that its contracted security firm is taking steps to ensure its personnel is following college policies...while Columbia does not have public restrooms, members of the Columbia community, including parents, are allowed to use restrooms on campus."
The family said the college's apology is "not enough" and have filed a complaint with the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice.