Combating discrimination in the academic setting


Discrimination is not alien to the academic setting. People have lost opportunities on account of discrimination against a segment of their identity.

Today is the Zero Discrimination Day, according to the United Nations (UN) observance. It is aimed at promoting equality before the law and in practice across member countries of the UN.

Within the context of civil rights, discrimination refers to the unjust or prejudicial

treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of age, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, nationality, marital status, or sex. There may be other grounds on which discriminators stand to perpetuate their acts. 

Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals also emphasises the need to promote just, peaceful and equal societies. Every school is a microcosm of the society. Academic environments should take the lead in ending discrimination in any form.

Within the academic setting, we have both teachers and students. Many teachers had lost their jobs just as others had been denied appointments and promotion on account of who they are. Those discriminating against them have no consideration for what the fellows have got to offer.

Prospective scholars in academic institutions are sometimes scored low marks by their teachers just because of an aspect of their background. Some teachers would not even hide their disdain for some students’ ethnicity or religion, for instance, and use that as the basis to deny them of their rights.

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In some tertiary institutions, a member of another ethnicity cannot be appointed as Head of Department not to talk of Provost or Vice Chancellor. Also, some top performing individuals are frustrated out of the academic system when they see how less their efforts are appreciated.

Discrimination had led some to despise the academia just as others have had their dreams dashed as a result.

Favouritism and nepotism are direct results of discrimination in the academic setting. Diversity means nothing in such instances.

Whether you are a teacher or student, you are almost entirely not free from discrimination. It’s either you are a perpetrator or a victim.

In a bid to create awareness against discrimination, presents you these tips on how to combat discrimination in the academic setting.

Combating discrimination in the academic setting


We believe that the war against discrimination in the academic setting could be won based on these tips.

1. Never give up

You should never give up on academic excellence even in the face of discrimination. That some people seem to dislike you because of who you are shouldn’t make you as a student or teacher back slide on achieving greatness.

Keep pushing for excellence. Some of the agents of discrimination would definitely outgrow their hatred and consider you on merit.

2. Align with better people

The set of people you align with may determine the extent of your success in the academic setting. It does not only end at your perceived brilliance.

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Connect with people better than you that they may assist you to succeed. Your circle of associates and friends have influence on how far you can reach. Choose the right company.

3. Never hide your identity

One mistake some make is to hide their identity because of prevailing discrimination. Don’t do that!

Those who would appreciate the differences between you and them would definitely do. As for others, the value you are adding can bring about a positive change in their attitude towards you.

4. Learn more about others

On a general note, we said earlier that no one is free from discrimination. If one is not discriminating against others, others are discriminating against one. The more we learn more about our differences, the more we create better understanding.

One cannot rule out the danger in unnecessary generalisation of a people based on the actions of a few among them. Since an academic setting is for learning, you should not make uninformed prejudices about others based on your limited knowledge of them. You are not too old to learn.

5. Discuss with someone

At times, the cases suspected to be results of discrimination may not be so. It may simply be based on one’s wrong assumption. If you think you or another person is a victim of discrimination, why not iron that out through healthy discussion? You can probe into what is not being done rightly and how better to do it, to make a head start.

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The person you think is being discriminatory may have other concerns which you have not observed. Get their perspective and see an end to the perceived discrimination, if it ever existed.

6. Be value oriented

Being value oriented means that you place premium on the common good rather than the identity of who is doing it. The one who discriminate against others should be more concerned about their credentials in relation to development. With this put in perspective, there would be lesser incidences of discrimination.

7. Move elsewhere

Victims of discrimination may just have to move elsewhere to escape from the machinations of those discriminating against them. Those who appreciate their value would be willing to work with them.

Several instances abound of where victims of discrimination rise above their former positions through other academic establishments. They may even turn out better in higher places than staying longer where their efforts were hitherto less valued.

What other ways do you think discrimination can be combated in the academic setting? Share in the comment box below.

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