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#WhyDisabledPeopleDropOut A thread. As a former faculty member, I have heard several colleagues complain about accommodations as being frivolous. If they are willing to say these things in front of a very visibly disabled colleague, what do they say behind closed doors? 1/
I regret very much being silent in my early career. I stayed silent because I was afraid to ask for meaningful accommodations for myself, because I was untenured. As progressed in my career, I became more vocal, and they became more silent. 2/
And then my disability progressed as I got older. I got a service dog, and some colleagues asked me if I got him because I wanted a dog at work... because I wasn’t *that* disabled. Then I had surgery after surgery every summer while others were conducting research. 3/
I got behind my peers in scholarship because I never did get those accommodations. I did extra service work, as minority faculty do, and I counseled disabled students and told them to fight for what is owed to them. I told them accommodations are a right, not a favor. 4/
I told them to be proud of their disabled identities. I told them that they had extra barriers but that they deserved to be there. Many dropped out or transferred. And I felt like a fraud. 5/
I should have been more vocal from the beginning, but I carried my own #InternalizedAbleism from college & grad school. I had been told in words & action that I needed to work harder to prove I deserved to be there, so I did. 6/
I didn’t question my own experience, until I saw it at work in my own students. And then, tenured, I became a loudmouth. At every meeting, forum, committee, etc, I became the “bitter #cripple.” And then I was pushed out. I was isolated from my department. 7/
I was given an office, alone on the first floor, in a suite of many offices. I complained. Silence. I complained some more. Silence. I threatened to quit if things didn’t change. Silence. And so I did quit. Silence. 8/
I felt like a failure. I felt like I had betrayed disabled, LGBTQ, Black, and brown students who thought my office was a safe space for counsel and support. I felt like I wasted 7 years in graduate school and 10 years building a career. 9/
I also felt exhausted. Years of extra emotional and physical labor had caught up to me. I just couldn’t fight #AcademicAbleism from within. Not at my institution. So I decided to fight from the outside. 10/
It took me a while to be ok with shedding the social privilege that comes with being a professor. But I can’t lose my PhD, and I earned that fucker. But I also realize that, with every barrier that I banged up against, there are still more for BIPOC disabled students. 11/
I grew up poor, disabled, in an uneducated family with little social mobility, but I grew up white. I got to college because I was told that it was my way of finding meaningful work, & I did it more easily because I’m white. Not easy, but easier. Because I’m a cishet blondie. 12/
I know what marginalized students disclose to trusted professors, and I know #WhyDisabledPeopleDropOut because I felt it every day in college and grad school. 13/
And then I saw it perpetuated in my own institution, and I saw the active silencing of disabled voices. The sad truth is that I’ve been invited to speak about disability on my former campus more than I ever was as a memeber of the faculty. 14/
I’m an outsider now, and I guess that’s less threatening. But I won’t stop talking about it. Not any of it. I’ll talk about ableism and white supremacy and complacency. Even my own. No more silence from me.
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