Conversation Summary: Are professors and other members of the class prepared to deal with ‘non-traditional’ students?

Summary of the Moving Forward Conversation Series Follow-up Discussion held on April 18, 2017.

Our Moving Forward conversation on April 18 initially focused on particular courses and how the professors handled differences in meaningful ways. The discussion led with the question, “Are the professors and other members of the class prepared to deal with a ‘non-traditional’ student?”

Our discussion developed around two types of students – older students and students with disabilities. As it related to older students, participants noted that there were generally two responses: 1) the members of the class were delighted to have them in the room because they brought a different perspective; and 2) there were classes where they were made uncomfortable, felt challenged, and consistently treated differently.

For students with disabilities, the conversation centered around the question of what is meant by reasonable accommodations. While there is clearly a technical definition of reasonable accommodations linked to the American Disabilities Act (ADA), the broader conversation focused on not merely compliance and meeting the bare minimum standards, but what we have to do to insure that all of our students feel fully supported in the classroom.

What is true in the classroom is also true throughout Price – every member of the Price School family should feel fully supported. Plan for the expected, but be prepared and flexible enough to respond to the unexpected. It is my hope that Moving Forward and the intentional conversations that it generates will help us to do both.

The final Moving Forward Conversation Series for this academic year will take place at 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 10 in RGL 103. We’ll discuss “Launching Well-Fall 2017” and implementation of our strategic plan for diversity, inclusion and social justice.

Meanwhile, keep sharing your stories with us, and with each other. And for those of you who are graduating, we welcome your stories as Price alumni for publication in the 2017-18 academic year. Please feel free to forward them to me anytime.

LaVonna B. Lewis, PhD, MPH
Teaching Professor of Public Policy
Diversity Liaison