Systems Advocacy To End Discrimination In Higher Education
A working group within LERN is currently engaged in systems advocacy to address pervasive discrimination, stigma, and civil rights violations within higher education settings, with a focus on graduate students.
Please direct any questions related to this topic or project to Beckie Child: beckie@LERNetwork.org
DHE Working Group Members: Beckie Child, Nev Jones, Laysha Ostrow
The LERN Discrimination in Higher Ed (DHE) working group has created a survey designed to gather information about students' experiences of discrimination, accommodation denials, and other disability-related barriers in postsecondary settings. We encourage both undergraduates and graduate students to participate. Please note that the survey is not formal research but rather information-gathering for the purpose of advocacy; no private information will be collected. Click here to participate.
Frequently Asked Questions
In order to answer some common concerns the DHE working group has prepared a brief FAQ directed at graduate students.
Although the importance of first person experience and/or minority identity has been emphasized in many academic contexts (e.g. with respect to under-represented ethnic/racial minority groups, women, and LGBTQ-identified students), relatively little attention has been paid to the training and support of graduate students and junior researchers with diagnoses of psychiatric disabilities, which may include diagnosis of a “serious mental illness”, and/or lived experience of the mental health system (including involuntary hospitalization, long-term treatment and disability services) outside the UK. Instead, students may be advised to hide their experiences during graduate school (and as junior investigators), focus on research in areas not related to their experiences, and speak in public only as researchers and not peer/consumer/survivors. In a recent study involving directors of psychology doctoral admissions program directors, disclosure of personal mental health problems was described as a “kiss of death” (Applby & Applby, 2006). Similarly, a national survey of both undergraduate and graduate students with psychiatric disabilities found that a full 56% reported feelings of embarrassment or shame in the process of seeking academic accommodations, the same number (56%) reported a fear of being stigmatized by faculty due to their requests, and almost half (42%) reported actual negative experiences with the accommodations process such as faculty members’ unwillingness to cooperate (Salzer, Wick & Rogers, 2008). Based on informal data collection by members and affiliates of LERN, the barriers and discriminatory treatment encountered in graduate and doctoral settings is often even more extreme, in some cases including expulsion, threats regarding clinical licensure, and outright denial of accommodations involving graduate and teaching assistantships & fellowships. In clinical training settings, stigmatizing attitudes toward psychiatric diagnoses, labels and experiences can be particularly pervasive and destructive.
Newsweek: How Colleges Flunk Mental Health
Vote for LERN to win the Scattergood Innovation Award for the DHE project!
Nev Jones' First Person Account: Academia Has Got to Change
External Resources for Students