By Xin Wen
Ingham County Chronicle Staff Reporter
Discrimination is a wide problem in modern society, and schools are not immune.
Since 2010, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights received 1,305 education contacts. The department has started 445 educational complaint investigations.
“Individuals can first file a complaint with us and then we will start our investigation process,” said Mark C. Bishop, who is the strategic partnership coordinator at the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. “If you file the complaint, we will first do the investigation and find out what’s going on for the complaint. Then we can make a decision that is this the discrimination.”
Bishop said even though it’s an individual experience, the issue can be much bigger once the issue is determined. The department will have a long and efficient complaint investigation process to protect everyone’s rights.
“Discrimination is when bias against a group leads to those in that group receiving less favorable outcomes than they deserve,” Ann Marie Ryan, a professor of organizational psychology at Michigan State University, said.
According to the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, a complaint maybe filed if, for reasons, race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, or disability, a person has been denied admission, service, activities or programs; disciplines or expelled as a student without just cause; denied employment; forced to work or attend school-segregated facilities; treated unequally in terms of quality of education; treated unequally in working conditions.
Ryan said fighting discrimination has its own challenges.
“They will find it difficult to ‘fight back’ and to say something to a person in a position of greater power, but at the same time they will want to point out to the person why their view is wrong and biased,” Ryan said.
Jayne Schuiteman is the senior investigator at the Office of Institutional Equity at MSU. She repeatedly said that students have no need to worry about whether a professor would refuse or evade an investigation from her office.
“If the problem is about the race or nationality, individuals can first contact the office and file a complaint,” Schuiteman said. “Once we confirm the complaint is true, we will do our best to communicate with the professors and they have no choice to escape the investigation.”