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Classmates of Down syndrome student protest withdrawal

 Posted: 2:35 PM November 18, 2010

About 20 students demonstrated today at Ashland's Southern Oregon University to protest an administrative decision to withdraw a student with Down syndrome.

Twenty-year-old Eliza Schaaf, a graduate of Ashland High School, was auditing a ceramics class as a way to share the college experience with her friends from high school, her parents said.

She had completed two-thirds of the class when she received a letter Nov. 8 notifying her she would be withdrawn from the class because she was not qualified to meet academic standards and disrupted the class. The letter also said the family would be given a full refund of tuition and fees.

All 19 students in Schaaf's class have signed a petition stating that Schaaf did not disrupt their learning in the class and was a welcome presence.

Mollie Mustoe, one of Schaaf's classmates who spearheaded the petition, said administrators didn't consult students before making the decision.

Student organizers gathered about 40 more signatures today from students who oppose the decision to remove Schaaf from class.

SOU's Student Senate voted unanimously Tuesday on a resolution asking the administration to allow Schaaf to remain on campus and to give Schaaf due process.

"The fact that it was unanimous is overwhelming for us," said Eliza's father, Ron Schaaf. "It's so gratifying to know other people believe in Eliza, other than her parents. We hope this will lead to a good conclusion."

— Paris Achen

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