Disabilities Ignored at Princeton
More students come forward with Cases of Disability Discrimination
Recently, incidents of disability discrimination have been discovered on campus at Princeton University. The focus centers on students with what is referred to “invisible disabilities.” Invisible disabilities include Dyslexia, Anxiety, ADHD, depression, hearing loss, etc. The belief is that these invisible disabilities do not fit in with the brand Princeton is trying to create, leading the disabilities to be marginalized. As if to prove this point, the head of disability at Princeton was recorded saying “Disabilities are not part of the zeitgeist of Princeton.”
Public statements from students have been included below. Most agree that there is a subtle type of bias effecting students. Students have experienced a variety of slights from banning service dogs from a residence, removing disability tools from exams, and even changing the grade levels students need to reach on a test after they speak out about treatment.
The following is an official record created by the organization Hungry 4 Disability Rights an organization made up of current and former students who have decided the break the silence and speak out about how they are being treated. The group wants the public to be aware of this situation and hopes to create a positive change.
In November of 2015 Rebecca, the only PhD student with disabilities in the WWS at the time, wrote “This is bullshit. Woodrow Wilson is set up so that a disabled person cannot pass [the general exam.]” She has since been dismissed because of her performance on the general exam. Several Emails were written by Rebecca alleging disability discrimination and she even threatens to sue individuals named in WP’s lawsuit.
~Rebecca Lutzy (Former Princeton PhD Student)
Former Princeton PhD student, Rachel Barr held an 18 day hunger strike in May of 2016 strike to protest systemic discrimination she claims resulted in her dismissal from Woodrow Wilson School. Barr filed a federal investigation in 2014. Under reveiw were allegations that the university lacked a prompt or effective process for responding to Barr’s disability related complaints regarding certain policies and procedures that Barr believed constituted illegal disability discrimination.
The results of the investigation are still pending as of June 2016.
~Rachel Barr (Former Princeton PhD student filed a federal investigation into disability discrimination at Princeton)
Kathy’s daughter, a then Princeton freshman, filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against Princeton in 2010 for failure to accommodate her dyelexia and ADHD. Kathy says she has been contacted by approximately 15 students with disabilities who encountered accommodation problems at ODS since her daughter’s lawsuit… Kathy would like to share her story because she feels like she had to “sign away her soul to the devil” just so Princeton would give her daughter the disability accommodations she had relied on throughout her academic career.
~Kathy Leggett (mother of a -then- Princeton freshman who filed a lawsuit against Princeton in 2010 for disability discrimination)
Ali Herman and another Princeton undergrad began collaborating to investigate (in terms of special needs housing as well as student testimonies) the insufficient care for students with hidden disabilities on the undergraduate level ranging from eating disorders to depression.
~Ali Herman (Princeton University undergrad)
Student 1’s Story
An undergraduate, registered at Princeton’s office of disability services with Asperger’s Syndrome, took a leave of absence from Princeton. When she tried to return in Fall 2014, a committee of administrators conditioned her re-admission on counseling at a Psychosis center in her hometown. Administrators asserted that she had this condition based only on her lack of emotional expressiveness, a hallmark of Asperger’s Syndrome.
~Student 1 (wants to remain anonymous)
W.P., an undergraduate with mental health concerns, filed a lawsuit in March 2014. University personal named in that lawsuit were allegedly involved in many of the subsequent disability related issues that others allege to have occurred.
~“WP” (pseudonym used to protect identity)
Employee 1’s Story
Employee 1 is a former staff member at the Wilson School who left in the Spring of 2013. After she requested accommodations for her ADHD, the University terminated her position, claiming that the request for accommodations demonstrated she could not perform the job.
Employee 1’s request (backed by a doctor’s note) was to work in a room other than the copy room, preferably an office with a door (which was a reasonable accomodation at the time considering everyone in the department, including support staff, had an office with a door.)
Instead of denying the request, Princeton terminated her. Employee 1 has written proof from the human resources department saying it was her doctor’s request for accommodations that caused Princeton to determine she couldn’t do the job.
“It would have been debatable if they had simply denied the accommodations, but terminating me is very clearly retaliation. It seems that if anywhere has the resources to (easily!) accommodate those with disabilities it would be Princeton, but I also wrongly assumed the University would not break the law outright.”
~Employee 1 (wants to remain anonymous)
Ms. Bender’s Story
Ms. Retta Jo Bender, a former nurse at Princeton University, filed a lawsuit in March 2016 alleging disability discrimination beginning in March 2013 and wrongful termination from Princeton in March 2014 (Read article here)
~Ms. Rhetta Jo Bender, (Former nurse at Princeton)