Chris Schneider ’24 is a biology and studio art major. She is the parent of two happy gremlins, her 2 rescued parakeets. In addition to making videos for the Flat Hat, she is an occasional member of the taekwondo club and the costuming club. Her roommates say she has a Goodwill addiction. Email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in the article are the author’s own.
By the end of my freshman year in 2021, I experienced losing the freshman 15, migraines and flashbacks. I had barely floated through the spring finals. Let’s just summarize it as the sixth level of hell. I realized I needed accommodations.
During the summer of 2021, I applied for accommodations but was rejected. My therapist’s diagnosis of social anxiety did not qualify me for an Emotional Support Animal. I started the process of getting a psychiatric evaluation in June. My initial meeting was scheduled for October, with my diagnostic being conducted in December. Student Accommodation Services denied my requests for temporary accommodations until I got my results.
Fall and spring blended into an amalgamation of tears and panic. I began sleeping for 17 hours uncontrollably and was unable to work on homework or study due to my constant need to destress. I’d fall asleep on the couch more times than on my bed. My diagnostic results came back in April 2022. Generalized anxiety disorder, a bipolar-related disorder and symptoms are usually seen in PTSD. I applied for accommodations again.
A note on the accommodation system. The system cannot recommend accommodations based on the description of academic struggles. They did not have an in-person office until this year. They did not use zoom calls last year and only allowed phone calls for the interview process after requesting the accommodations. Miss their phone call, cannot call them back; instead, going through a lengthy process of emailing back and forth again.
By this point, I had thoroughly researched the recommended accommodations for those with anxiety and BP. I selected a few that I found pertinent to my needs and were relatively small. The results of that endeavor were concerning.
The outcome? My approved accommodations are as follows: books/readings in an alternative format, reduced distraction testing space, 50% additional time on timed quizzes/tests and exams and reduced distraction testing spaces. A pattern in these; they are related to my anxiety disorder and fatigue. Meanwhile, the rejected accommodations: 24-hour flexibility with assignment due dates due to a condition flare-up, occasional but necessary absences due to a flare-up and an emotional support animal – in my case, two parakeets I had rescued that kept me stable at home.
In the phone interview, I related all of these to my bipolar disorder. These were all struggles I faced last semester. I cried in class because I was overwhelmed. I missed assignment due dates because I had a depressive mood swing. These were extremely specific, moderate and described as needed due to my disorder. These were all rejected.
It is concerning to me that my more extreme condition was ignored. I understand that more people understand the needs of those suffering from anxiety. However, I see the lack of knowledge and understanding for those suffering from more extreme conditions and disorders as a flaw within the system. If the College of William and Mary continues to advertise itself as accommodating to those with disabilities, disorders and conditions, it must improve its practices. This is especially true because the College receives public and government funding.