Discrimination and bullying of disabled students is rampant in colleges and universities. Now that I have a full year of law school under my belt since being diagnosed with a rare disease and three other chronic conditions, I connect with those who have had similar experiences. I refuse to be silent about “administrators” who torment students with invisible disabilities because they are ignorant. It is obvious that they disregard the Americans With Disabilities Act and university policies with their outrageous and targeted discriminatory behavior. It is an epidemic for the largest minority in the United States.
Despite my advocacy endeavors, working with Congress, publications, education and more, I have still been the target of bullying and discrimination in higher education. These people are not the majority, as I have encountered amazing professors and staff who are dedicated to helping students with disabilities succeed. Those people aren’t recognized enough. On the other hand, there is a major problem within our academic institutions with people on misguided power trips. I like to refer to them as “wannabe academic boondocks saints”, hellbent on calling out students with disabilities for seeking accommodations as fakers or frauds. These are the people that scream liability, yet there never seems to be a way to address it. Whether you’ve been directly victimized, witnessed the bullying and discrimination or have been discouraged from seeking accommodations because of the reputation of certain administrators, this is completely unacceptable and also illegal.
I can’t help but wonder how bad it gets for people who don’t have pages of search results on Google all about being diagnosed with a rare and life limiting blood disorder. Yet despite that, the ignorance in blatant and in an institution that by now should be well aware that I am hard working and motivated to succeed despite the fact that I have been diagnosed with three additional diseases since starting law school last year. If that doesn’t display my character, I don’t know what else will.
I refuse to be bullied into not seeking accommodations I am legally entitled to due to my illnesses ( I am talking about something as simple as not having to sit in the middle of a crowded room of people for hours without having a mask on). That’s how idiotic this has become! I shouldn’t have to subject myself to potential major health complications because of someone’s ignorance.
I am interested in hearing from other rare disease and chronic illness patients who have been the victim of discrimination in higher education. I believe we need to address this on a national level, as I reached out to people about my experiences and was met with the same anger and frustration. While I felt better knowing I was not alone, I am angered that this is happening all over the country, despite laws put in place to protect us from these academic thugs.
You can reach out to me on Twitter @RareCandace or via email RareCandace@gmail.com.