“If I could take you out of my class then I would”

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U of R prof refused to accommodate student with learning disabilities

Isolated and alone. Unable to go to the dean or her prof she had to drop the class. / Haley Klassen

Isolated and alone. Unable to go to the dean or her prof she had to drop the class. / Haley Klassen

Almost every student knows the stress of university, but imagine adding on a learning disability. Also, imagine if a professor decided not to accommodate the student’s needs.

This is a scary reality for one University of Regina student that the Carillon interviewed who has both dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The student received a “Neuropsychological Assessment Report” from a psychologist, who then recommends what accommodations the student should be given. The student then meets with a Centre for Student Accessibility (CSA) councilor to set up an accommodation plan, which is then sent out to professors and signed off on by both the student and the professor. The process usually goes smoothly, but not this time.

This student joined the class two weeks late due to changing classes while switching her major. An assignment was due early, and the student missed handing it in on time. The accommodation letter was sent in late as well, due to the class switch.

The student decided to meet with her professor to explain her situation and why her assignment was late.

This interview was conducted under the strict condition of anonymity, which the Carillon guarantees due to the sensitivity of the matter. She also asked us not to contact or name the professor because she would potentially face repercussions for coming forward.

“He didn’t think it was fair that I should be given accommodations because at that point he said we were almost a third of the way through the course.”

“The professor literally told me ‘if I could take you out of my class then I would, but I can’t, you have to do it.’”

The meeting with the professor didn’t go well, and the student ended up panicking.

“It made me feel dumb. I felt like a little girl. I always do this dumb panicky thing where I just sit like a little girl and I get treated like a little girl all the time. It’s really frustrating because I don’t know where to go with this. I would like to complain, but if I were to complain, he would still be teaching that class, and I really like that class. That’s the biggest thing, I love that class.”

The student’s hands were tied, because she didn’t want to go to the dean or come out publically because of the potential effect on her grade.

“If I were to go to the dean, and the dean went to the professor, the professor would still have to grade all of my papers. “

The student is now dropping the class instead.

“Even I were to contest my grade, I don’t think it’d be that good. Still, that’s frightening for me.”

The student emphasized that most professors are extremely accommodating and helpful, and she’s had an overall positive experience, but some need to learn more about the issue.

“I think having professors more aware of how to deal with students with disabilities would help. If this was somebody else, who didn’t have a good support system like me, I don’t know what they’d do. I was losing sleep about this. I need this class…I’m going to see if I can retake it next semester. “

“I hate giving up, and I hate defeat. I feel like I’m just letting him win, which is just a dumb thing,” she explained

“But, pretty much when a prof makes up their mind about you, what can you do? Fight it? They’ll just give you a bad mark.”

Since she had to drop the class, she was also worrying about her student loans.

“When you apply to student loans you have to say how many credits you’re taking, and if I were to drop one, that means I have less credits. I have no idea how this will affect my loans. That is also freaking me out.”

“I just want to finish school.”

 

 

5 comments

  1. Alix 13 November, 2014 at 16:54

    Why did you choose not to contact the professor? This is not fair or balanced journalism. Yes, if it is true it is terrible, but we need both sides….

  2. A prof 14 November, 2014 at 05:51

    Don’t quit. If you feel knocked down, stand up again. Profs don’t mark as subjectively as you think – they have rubrics and there’s oversight. And they can and do change their minds about students’ capabilities in the course of a semester.

  3. Erika 14 November, 2014 at 09:22

    I know it may be stressful with student loans but just call them and they can easily adjust the hours. 🙂

  4. Karla 14 November, 2014 at 11:30

    Life is not fair. Life is hard sometimes. Not everyone will see things the way you do. You will have to work with difficult people sometimes, and they will have to work with you. Things happen for a reason.These are good lessons for everyone to learn, learning disability or not. And yes, it would be good to hear the prof’s side of things. It sounds to me like it would have been a really rocky entrance into the class anyway: two weeks late, change of major, assignment past due…why make it so hard for yourself when you already have challenges to your learning? My advice: don’t give up, don’t get bitter, try again next semester. Call the Student Loan people, work it out. The cliche is true: where there is a will, there is a way. Best wishes to this student.

  5. crippledscholar 14 November, 2014 at 15:01

    This is not an uncommon occurance. Either professors refuse outright or are initially supportive and then simply don’t follow through with requirements. Fighting back is difficuct because there is a huge power imbalance and in my experience complaints to CSA go nowhere. I hope the Carrillon will do a more in depth story on university accommadations because in many ways the U of R is failing its students (though to be fair it’s not just the U of R)

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