Friday, 27 May 2022

The Decline Of Personal Responsibility Accelerates...

In a landmark case that has deep implications for other higher education institutions, the parents of Natasha Abrahart successfully sued the University of Bristol under the Equality Act.
Abrahart, 20, a physics undergraduate who suffered from severe social anxiety, died a day before she was due to give a “terrifying” oral exam in front of teachers and fellow students.

Shouldn't oral exams be expected to be a part of university life? 

Her parents sued the university under the Equality Act for not taking reasonable care of their daughter’s wellbeing, health and safety, arguing it did not do enough to help her despite staff knowing she had a disability and was struggling deeply.
In a judgment issued on Friday at Bristol county court, judge Alex Ralton said: “There can be no doubt that there was direct discrimination, especially once the university knew or should have known that a mental health disability of some sort was preventing Natasha from performing.”

So, the wicked university did nothing to help her? Hmmm, not quite. 

But not enough, according to her parents, who seem to have expected the university to accommodate their daughter, and not their daughter to accommodate the requirements of her chosen subject: 

Abrahart said his daughter struggled to speak to people she did not know, particularly people in positions of authority.
“Expecting Natasha to take part in oral assessments was like expecting a student in a wheelchair to take an exam in a room at the top of a long flight of stairs.”

Except it isn't. The student can be provided with an exam in a ground floor, but still has to take the exam

And the university did offer alternatives:

“Our staff’s efforts also included offering alternative options for Natasha’s assessments to alleviate the anxiety she faced about presenting her laboratory findings to her peers.
“Given the significant impact this decision could have on how all higher education providers support their students, we are reviewing the decision carefully, including whether to appeal.”

Maybe on appeal, we'll find out why those offered alternatives weren't deemed suitable, because it's not explicit in this article: 

The university has argued that it had tried to offer Abrahart alternatives to the oral presentation.
But the judge observed that, “whilst a few ideas” regarding possible adjustments were “floated” by the university, “none were implemented”.

Why not? Is it because she turned them down? It would be good to know, wouldn't it? 

8 comments:

  1. We are seriously screwed, aren't we?

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  2. Society can only go down the toilet when people in positions of responsibility, like judges, are willing to allow it, rather than giving these adult children a firm 'No!'

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  3. What's the point in studying? Just give them the qualification. This is the inclusive "everyone wins" and "I identify as" mentality taken to the extreme. I identify as a Brain Surgeon, I demand the local hospital employ me otherwise it's discrimination.

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  4. Decades ago, I was contacted by our Office of Accessibility to make what I considered to be unreasonable accommodations for a student (after I had successfully worked with two blind and one deaf student, as well as some in wheelchairs). I told her that I was under the impression that stupidity was one thing that we were permitted to discriminate against. There was no further communication.

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  5. Perhaps the university should counter-sue for the parents failing to bring up a well-rounded human?

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