As many of you already know, the gap between the idea of protection against discrimination and the reality of it is often huge.
As reported in the Huffington Post yesterday, Rachel Barr, a recent Yale alum, was unable to continue her PhD program when she received a score of B- during an exam which her writing software malfunctioned (she needed a B to continue). Princeton denied a request to test her orally and forced her to take the exam without the software within 72 hours (Barr also attempted a Stop-The-Clock request, but this request was denied).
It’s also notable that Rachel disclosed her disability when applying to the PhD program at Princeton. “I think differently, I process differently,” Rachel Barr wrote in her application to become a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. Later she would be chided by a professor of Princeton who told her to “put aside the idea that you think differently” and “fit into a grad student mold.”
From the article:
“This was discriminatory against Barr, she argues, “because I didn’t have full access to the testing accommodations that I needed to have an equal opportunity to succeed on the exam as a non-disabled student.”
Barr appealed her grade over the alleged denial of accommodations. The university looked into the matter, but denied Barr’s claims on Sept. 8, 2014, she said. Princeton terminated her student status a few days later.
Barr said her complaint has been folded into a larger inquiry of Princeton’s approach to students with disabilities. The Education Department opened a second investigation on Sept. 30 in response to allegations that the school had violated Title IX by mishandling a sexual assault case and Title VI by failing to provide academic adjustments for people with disabilities, a department official said.
The Education Department declined to elaborate on specifics of the investigations, except to say they both remain ongoing. ”
From Yale Daily News:
“In October 2015, Dianne Piche, former deputy assistant secretary and special counsel for OCR whom Barr consulted for advice, wrote a letter to the New York OCR director regarding Barr’s case.
“The insensitivity and discrimination to which Ms. Barr was subjected by Princeton University is above and beyond anything I have ever seen in the context of graduate education and an individual with ‘invisible’ disabilities similar to those Ms. Barr has documented and disclosed.”