Educators need to stop being ableist

Marcos Pino, Reporter

In a TikTok video posted on February 18 that went viral, a professor from Oxnard College was recorded berating a student who is hearing impaired. The video, which received national news coverage, clearly demonstrated the instructor’s disregard for the student’s condition and is an example of the discrimination that people with disabilities continue to face.

All students deserve an education environment that is free from discrimination and this video is an example of why it is time for everyone, especially those in the academic community, to educate themselves about disabilities.

In a Zoom interview, Angela Naginey, deputy registrar of Academic Services and Title IX Coordinator, said educators and classmates can never be fully aware of how different disabilities manifest.

“A lot of times it’s something we can’t see, like mental illnesses,” Naginey said.

Educators should understand that not all disabilities are visible and therefore treat all people with respect.

“You know, we as humans can notice when someone is in a wheelchair and we can understand then they are disabled. That’s a case where seeing is believing,” Naginey said.

Naginey also said individuals that behave like the professor in the video are likely misinformed and unwilling to understand or learn.

For those who are willing to learn, there are plenty of educational resources available.

At California Lutheran University, Disability Support Services strives to ensure that students who require accommodations receive what they need to succeed.

“The department works hard to meet the needs of the students it works with,” Naginey said.

Naginey said she is hopeful that DSS’ diligence in informing Cal Lutheran professors and staff about students’ accommodations would prevent a situation similar to what happened at Oxnard College.

However, creating a more inclusive campus environment takes ongoing effort. It is our job as members of the campus community to make sure we stay informed on how to foster an inclusive environment for those who are differently abled.

In an email interview, Andrea Layne, director of Student Life, said she recommends that institutions of higher education hold training programs for faculty and staff on supporting students with disabilities, as well as the neurodiverse community.

Layne said her work as a third-year doctoral student in the Graduate School of Education at Cal Lutheran is directed toward promoting inclusivity of those with disabilities and spreading awareness about the neurodiversity movement.

Neurodiversity is one effort associated with the autism acceptance movement,” Layne said. “Neurodiversity can be described as the biological fact that there are many different types of human minds, with no type of mind that is superior to another, that variations of human character traits are natural and should be accommodated by an informed mainstream.”

Layne said she believes there isn’t enough awareness surrounding disabilities and the neurodiverse community, and that institutions should offer extracurricular activities, programs and other campus events so that all students can engage with and learn about these communities.

When it comes to talking about disabilities, it’s important to learn about the specific types so you can be comfortable and communicate more easily with people of all abilities.

It is important that we do not forget to treat each other with respect and as civilized human beings–if that seems like it should go without saying, don’t forget the video of the professor scolding a student attempting to learn via their interpreter.