Taking Experiences of Discrimination Seriously
To take action against discrimination, we must first perceive it and understand it as a problem – this especially holds for those who are not directly affected. In the domain of higher education, an assortment of studies and progress reports have been published on such issues as racism, transphobia, and sexism in the university and the workplace.
When students have trouble reconciling their studies with paid work due to visa regulations, when lecturers use masculine terms by default, when presentations employ colonial language, when classmates make sexist comments in the laboratory, or when a university does not have any gender-neutral bathrooms, these are not merely the problems or the special “sensitivities” of individual students. These situations point to exclusionary structures that still exist even when no one is “complaining” about them. Only if these experiences are taken seriously can steps be taken to prevent students who do find themselves affected by discrimination from dropping out or discounting further graduate studies.
In cases of discrimination, the people targeted should not keep silent. They should reach out to a person they feel they can trust, advocacy groups or points of contact. Lecturers who hear about such cases or need advice themselves can also reach out to these bodies. If you set a positive example with your own behavior, clear messaging, discrimination-conscious communication, and content curation, you can create a framework for discrimination to be noticed and acted upon more quickly. Students or lecturers who experience discrimination and/or want to work against it can also join together within their academic departments or at the university level.
Crenshaw, Kimberlé. 1989. Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum 1: 139–167.
Crenshaw, Kimberlé. 1991. Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color. Stanford Law Review 43: 1241–1299.
Czock, Heidrun, Dominik Donges, und Susanne Heinzelmann. 2012. Diskriminierungsfreie Hochschule - Mit Vielfalt Wissen schaffen. Endbericht zum Projekt. Hrsg. Antidiskriminierungsstelle des Bundes. Berlin.
Kuria, Emily Ngubia, Hrsg. 2015. eingeschrieben. Zeichen setzen gegen Rassismus an deutschen Hochschulen. 1. Aufl. Berlin: w_orten & meer.
Sauer, Arn, und Jannik Franzen. 2010. Benachteiligung von Trans*Personen, insbesondere im Arbeitsleben. Berlin.
Version April 2017. Unless otherwise stated, this content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International licence.