Father of Columbia Student Threatens Legal Action After He Was Denied Emergency Restroom Use

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A man with a disability says his civil rights were violated when he had an emergency situation last week at Columbia College and was denied access to a bathroom at the facility.

Two strokes left Jose Palencia paralyzed on this left side of his body, and while he was visiting the school last week, he was denied use of a bathroom. He says he ultimately defecated on himself, and says school officials didn't so much as offer him anything to clean himself up with.

Now, he and his family are threatening legal action and demanding justice.

“Can you imagine how humiliated my father felt at that time?" cried Jennifer Santoyo. "That’s humiliating! No one should ever have to go through something like that!”

Santoyo gets emotional talking about what happened to her father at Columbia College Chicago.

“Like my daughter said I was extremely upset and very embarrassed and most of all humiliated," said Jose Palencia. I pleaded with them constantly to please let me in.”

Santoyo’s father, Jose Palencia, is disabled and walks with a cane. He had just dropped his son off at Columbia when nature called. Instead of providing bathroom accommodations, he claims security threatened him with legal action. 

“They told me to leave," he said. "Told me to leave the premises or I was going to get arrested.”

With a fecal matter mess on his hands, Palencia left on his own. Columbia College declined an on camera interview but issued a statement that reads in part "Columbia deeply regrets this incident and has apologized to the family privately…While Columbia does not have public restrooms, members of the Columbia community, including parents, are allowed to use restrooms on campus."

“No, that’s not enough! That’s not enough!" yelled Palencia's son.

Standing with signs in front of the building where it happened, Palencia and his family hope to bring awareness about the incident. They want more to be done.

“They need to apologize to my father," said Santoyo. "They apologized to my brother not directly to my father.”

Palencia does not have a medical condition that requires immediate restroom usage but the family has filed a complaint with the United States Department of Justice civil rights division.

Columbia College statement indicates that they do not discriminate based on race, age, gender disability or any other basis prohibited by law.

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