Federal lawsuit against USI alleges discrimination due to a medical condition

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)– A federal lawsuit, filed against the University of Southern Indiana, claims the university discriminated against Seth Pressler due to a medical condition.

Back in October, Eyewitness News talked with student Seth Pressler. He said USI kicked him off campus for his Tourette’s tics. A petition to allow him back on campus garnered thousands of signatures.

“There’s got to be a different way you can go about this. You need to give Seth some consideration and some accommodation and it seems there’s near no attempt for that made,” said Jeremy Schnepper, Seth Pressler’s attorney.

Pressler’s lawsuit acknowledges his tics, including him saying phrases like “I have a bomb” or “I have a gun” but quickly apologizing, saying he has neither.

“He was feeling some pressure from school and I think that’s about the time he began starting to make some of these tics,” Schnepper explained.

The suit also claims that after Pressler displayed many tics at the beginning of October, the university barred him from campus. It says USI originally promised him dining options, but later rescinded the offer. The lawsuit alleges USI denied Pressler his 14th amendment rights by not providing him the same access to services and benefits as other students.

Public safety concerns lead to Pressler being told to continue his studies online, but Schnepper says he believes Pressler isn’t a threat to anyone’s safety. Pressler hoping to return to campus.

“You have this kid who went to high school and did well in high school and he becomes eligible to go to a University, gets accepted, and wants to live the college life just like anybody else does and he’s told that he’s different and has to go to his dorm. I mean it’s heartbreaking for a student I imagine, ” said Schnepper. “He just feels wronged and I think he wants to kind of make an example that way other people, under qualified people with disabilities aren’t treated similarly out on campus. I know that’s been a big part of him. He’s got such a big heart.

The university released a statement Thursday morning in response to the lawsuit:

The University of Southern Indiana does not comment directly on any pending litigation.  We can say that it is the policy of the University of Southern Indiana to be in full compliance with all federal and state non-discrimination and equal opportunity laws, orders and regulations relating to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran status.

Aaron C. Trump
USI Chief of Government and Legal Affairs

(This was originally published March 4, 2021)

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