Antonio Milane ’25 has committed to Stanford after weeks of back-and-forth with school administrators as he attempted to secure sufficient accommodations to attend his dream school.
Milane was initially concerned he would not be able to attend because of the University’s refusal to provide him with a scribe for homework, classifying it as a “personal service.” But, Milane says the support from the Stanford community only confirmed that Stanford was where he is meant to be.
Following social media advocacy by Milane and members of the Stanford community, the University committed to accommodating Milane’s request for a scribe.
The specifics of Milane’s accommodations still need to be worked out. Milane said that while “it’s not over,” he now feels more confident that his scribing needs will be met by the University.
Rebecca Pizzitola ’25, an incoming frosh who helped organize on behalf of Milane, told The Daily that she was “hopeful that because Stanford obviously cares enough about its reputation to tell the press, they will follow through” on the specific commitments Milane requested.
Still, Milane and advocates’ optimism was tempered by concern about the lack of a formal confirmation and details about specific accommodations.
Milane said he was initially told by the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) in a meeting after the public commitment that they could not provide a confirmation or specific details about accommodations without consulting other members of the University.
Senior Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students Mona Hicks has since confirmed to Milane over email that he will be provided a scribe, leading him to accept his offer of admission.
ASSU Director of Disability Advocacy, co-president of the Stanford Disability Alliance and Daily columnist Tilly Griffiths ’22 said that the University’s commitment was “definitely a positive step, but the pressure can’t lift completely because we need to ensure that Antonio’s needs are fully met in the full picture, [not] just something that’ll be figured out later down the line.”
The University remains “committed to making sure Mr. Milane has what he needs to be successful here, including providing him with any scribe services he needs,” University spokesman E.J. Miranda wrote in a statement to The Daily.
Miranda wrote that it was “difficult to ascertain” the specific accommodations needed before Milane enrolled in classes.
“How many service hours will be needed will depend on his coursework and what will be asked of him, which may not be comparable to his high school experience and may, in fact, be more,” Miranda wrote. “We look forward to working with him once he enrolls to make sure his needs for a scribe are fully met.”
Several advocates, however, attributed the change in the University’s position to public pressure, and they have expressed concern that it’s fallen to individual student advocacy and community mobilization to receive a commitment from the University.
“It’s disheartening that it is taking the work of teenagers, most of us still in high school, to help get Antonio [Milane] what he needs to have an equitable Stanford experience. It should never take this much work to give a student the help they need,” Pizzitola wrote.
Prospective frosh Magdalena Ohstrom echoed Pizzitola. She said the University’s promise of equitable education meant they should provide all resources students need to attend.
“It’s disappointing to see that Stanford isn’t as dedicated to its beliefs as we are,” Ohstrom said.
Miranda wrote, “Our goal is always to ensure that all of our students can take advantage of every academic opportunity the university offers and enjoy a meaningful student experience. The Office of Accessible Education (OAE) generally conducts the initial assessment process after students accept and enroll with us to determine what they need to be successful at Stanford.”
Milane said advocating for the University to provide him with a scribe was a stressful and emotionally straining process. He plans to continue advocating for the disabled community on campus and hopes to make the accommodations process more accessible.
“Milane should not have had to expend this much energy and time advocating for himself in order to be listened to,” wrote Ria Calcagno ’22. Calcagno, who lives with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), serves as Co-President of the Stanford Disability Alliance, formerly known as Power2Act. “Many students with disabilities have had the same experience, having to advocate for policies and resources –– for their own basic needs –– for months and even years, sometimes without ultimate success.”
Calcagno wrote that “there are many individuals — from disability advisors to administrators — across all departments at this University who believe students with disabilities should be treated fairly and want to help when an issue is raised,” but they are limited by decentralized University policies. She hopes that the recently announced study group and task force initiative will listen to the disabled community and facilitate genuine change.
Milane echoed Calcagno’s statements, saying that “there are individuals in the OAE that deeply care about accessibility and want to make a change but don’t have the power to.”
Miranda wrote that the conversations about accessibility had “underscored the importance of looking at the totality of our disability programs and re-envisioning what the next era of disability access at Stanford should encompass.” A study group will be launched in the spring followed by a task force in the fall. Advocates expressed hope that this would lead to increased accessibility at the University.
Griffiths said she hoped universities across the country are recognizing “that they have a responsibility that is greater than the legal obligations. They have a responsibility to ensure that students can access their education in the fullest extent.”
While Milane’s experience has highlighted issues with accessibility at the University, and broadly across higher education, he said he “learned that it’s the students that make Stanford amazing,” expressing gratitude to all the students that supported him. He said they plan to celebrate over Zoom this weekend and that he looks forward to meeting them in person.
Pizzitola wrote that her experiences advocating for Milane had affirmed her “beliefs about how wonderful the Stanford community is.”
“I wish that the institution’s administration would mirror the heart of the student body, but I never expected that,” she wrote.